State of the City speech filled with unsupported promises

Mayor Lee's speech was long pledges, promises, and platitudes, but short of support.

It was maddening to watch Mayor Ed Lee deliver his annual State of the City address this morning. This was pure politics, from the staged backdrop of housing construction at Hunters Point Shipyard to the use of “regular people” props to the slate of vague and contradictory promises he made.

“This place, the shipyard, links our proud past to an even more promising future,” was how Lee began his hour-plus, invite-only address.

Later, he touted the housing construction being done there by Lennar Urban as emblematic of both his promise to bring 30,000 new housing units online by 2020 — the cornerstone to what he called his “affordability agenda” — and the opposition to unfettered development that he is pledging to overcome.

“A great example is the place we’re standing right now. This took us too long,” Lee said after decrying the “easy slogans and scapegoating” by progressive activists who place demands on developers.

But that implication was complete bullshit. As we and others have reported, progressive and community activists have long encouraged Lennar Urban (which has a close relationship to Lee) to speed up development on this public land that it was given almost a decade ago, particularly the long-promised affordable housing, rather than waiting for the real estate market to heat up.

That was just one of many examples of misleading and unsupported claims in a speech that might have sounded good to the uninformed listener, but which greatly misrepresented the current realities and challenges in San Francisco.

For example, Lee called for greater investments in the public transit system while acknowledging that his proposal to ask voters this November to increase the vehicle license fee isn’t polling well. And yet even before that vote takes place, Lee wants to extend free Muni for youth and repeal the policy of charging for parking meters on Sundays without explaining how he’ll pay for that $10 million per year proposal.

“Nobody likes it, not parents, not our neighborhood businesses, not me,” Lee said of Sunday meters, ignoring a study last month by the San Francisco Muncipal Transportation Agency showing the program was working well and accomplishing its goals of increasing parking turnover near businesses and bringing in needed revenue.

Lee also glossed over the fact that he hasn’t provided funding for the SFMTA’s severely underfunded bicycle or pedestrian safety programs, yet he still said, “I support the goals of Vision Zero to eliminate traffic deaths in our city.”

Again, nice sentiment, but one that is totally disconnected from how he’s choosing to spend taxpayer money and use city resources. And if Lee can somehow achieve his huge new housing development push, Muni and other critical infrastructure will only be pushed to the breaking point faster.  

Lee acknowledges that many people are being left out of this city’s economic recovery and are being displaced. “Jobs and confidence are back, but our economic recovery has still left thousands behind,” he said, pledging that, “We must confront these challenges directly in the San Francisco way.”

And that “way” appears to be by making wishful statements without substantial support and then letting developers and venture capitalists — such as Ron Conway, the tech and mayoral funder seated in the second row — continue calling the shots.

Even with his call to increase the city’s minimum wage — something that “will lift thousands of people out of poverty” — he shied away from his previous suggestion that $15 per hour would be appropriate and said that he needed to consult with the business community first.

“We’ll seek consensus around a significant minimum wage increase,” he said, comparing it to the 2012 ballot measures that reformed the business tax and created an Affordable Housing Fund (the tradeoff for which was to actually reduce the on-site affordable housing requirements for developers).

But Mayor Lee wants you to focus on his words more than his actions, including his identication with renters who “worry that speculators looking to make a buck in a hot market will force them out.”

Yet there’s little in his agenda to protect those vulnerable renters, except for his vague promise to try to do so, and to go lobby in Sacramento for reforms to the Ellis Act. While in Sacramento, he says he’ll also somehow get help for City College of San Francisco, whose takeover by the state and usurpation of local control he supported.   

“City College is on the mend and already on the path to full recovery,” Lee said, an astoundingly out-of-touch statement that belies the school’s plummeting enrollment and the efforts by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and others to push back on the revocation of its accreditation.

Lee also had the audacity to note the “bone dry winter” we’re having and how, “It reminds us that the threat of climate change is real.” Yet none of the programs he mentions for addressing that challenge — green building standards, more electric vehicle infrastructure, the GoSolar program — would be as effective at reducing greenhouse gas emmisions as the CleanPowerSF program that Lee and his appointees are blocking, while offering no other plan for building renewable energy capacity.

Far from trying to beef up local public sector resources that vulnerable city residents increasingly need, or with doing environmental protection, Lee instead seemed to pledge more of the tax cutting that he’s used to subsidize the overheating local economy.

“Affordability is also about having a city government taxpayers can afford,” Lee said. “We must be sure we’re only investing in staffing and services we can afford over the long term.”

How that squares with his pledges to put more resources into public transit, affordable housing development, addressing climate change, and other urgent needs that Lee gives lip service to addressing is anybody’s guess.  


Adding to that: I also meant to say that the tactic you and other pro-Tech Surveillance-State Industrial Complex trolls are using on me is the classic "Attack the Messenger." It's an attempt to silence me because you don't like me talking about the Gentrification and Evictions shuttles. Tough luck. I've noticed that the trolls use the same tactic on Joe Fitzgerald Rodríguez to try to silence him from writing about this techie subject. When someone tries to silence someone else, it often backfires on them and can have the opposite effect.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 5:10 am

So overall buses. trains and ferries deter gentrification by encouraging successful people to work in SF but live somewhere else

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

transit into the city, which is much greater than transit out of the city. Imagine how expensive SF homes would be if everyone who worked in SF also lived here.

The much smaller numbers we sent out of the city each day do not have much impact at all. Objection to the shuttles is just an envy trip.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:38 am

John Avalos, er Ávalos, is that you??

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

Add to the "green" shtick, that while the Governor is calling for a voluntary 20% reduction in water consumption, SF's planners are calling for a 20% increase in population, all of which will be using water.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 7:14 pm

And just where will all of the shit of the newcomers sluice to for treatment?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

I agree. Adding: They can throw up "Luxury Designer Condos" towers for the techies all over the place but if there's a water shortage (including water for flushing the toilet and bathing), then what? Do self-absorbed and self-entitled techies really enjoy living in a place where there's a water shortage or no water? What will happen to all of these new buildings that this useless planning department is pumping through the system? Similar to the empty cities in China perhaps where they over-built and no one lives there?

This is January...typically our coldest month and our rainy season. And just look outside: the opposite of that is happening and has been for weeks.

I know what the Lee-bots will say: "It will all be fine. No problem. My messiah Lee will take care of it all. I have complete confidence in him. He has a mandate. He's enormously popular, you know."


Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

The same as it did in the 70s and the 90s. Thanks for pointing that out - you should post under your real name so you can receive your Pulitzer.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 9:51 pm

California could experience 'historic' drought in 2014
December 29, 2013 12:00AM ET

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

Let's all pull out our hair!!! The sky is falling!! However did we get through the droughts of the 70s and the 90s? We're all gonna diiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

You never let the facts get in your way, do you? It's called climate change, moron. Do you EVER look anything up rather than rely on your arrogant willful-ignorance?

Search engine:

“The worst drought California has ever seen” is now an official emergency
The historically dry weather is a sign of what's to come, climate experts say
Friday, Jan 17, 2014 10:14 AM PST

As Salon reported yesterday, California just experienced its driest year ever recorded, leaving its lakes and reservoirs at critically low levels. Referring to it as a “mega-drought,” Brown said Friday that it’s “perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago.” He’s asking residents to cut their water use by 20 percent, and said that he hasn’t ruled out mandatory conservation measures if the conditions persist — as meteorologists predict they will.

“It’s important to wake all Californians to the serious matter of the drought and lack of rain,” Brown said, according to CNN. “We are in a unprecedented, serious situation that people should pause and reflect on how we’re dependent on rain, Mother Nature and each other.

Experts say that California must look beyond the current crisis as well, warning that the state can expect more of the same in future years. “The current historically dry weather is a bellwether of what is to come in California, with increasing periods of drought expected with climate change.” Juliet Christian-Smith, climate scientist in the California office of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement. “Because increasing demand and drought are straining our water resources, we need to adopt policies that address both the causes and consequences of climate change.”

The article is at salon dot com

(spam filter blocked link)

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 10:49 pm

that we should not build anything, do anything or try and grow the economy.

Business as usual for the nattering nabobs of negativity, but the majority are behind Lee and want new homes and jobs.

And Lee's call for "civility and unity" in discussing these issues should be heeded by the bigots and zealots here. As Lee put it, the discourse needs to "grow up" - something SF progressives typically have never done.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:48 am

Fuck Ed Lee and David Chiu and their "Civility." Their version of "civility" is shut up, grow up and surrender to developers and boosters.

The ideology of perpetual growth is the ideology of the cancer cell, both are parasitic and end up consuming the host.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 9:51 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

Political failure in San Francisco only began to happen in 2007 when the nonprofits got coopted. After donating countless hours only to get screwed over, then the incivility began in earnest.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

I would not be able to see 100 high-rises from my windows. Nor would there be a high tech boom in the city with tens of thousands of millionaires being minted here.

Your irrelevance is important to those of us who want SF to grow and to be prosperous and sucessful

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

lest we forget that Marcos owns a condo worth over three quarters of a million.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 11:05 am

the value of his condo. Given that it is on one the shittiest blocks in the mission, he probably feels that he needs some manipulation.

Marcos is a white male tech workers who has helped gentrify the Mission and yet he pretends to hate white male tech workers who gentrify the Mission.

He's a hypocrite.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 11:15 am

Because it happened before 2007?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

The dotcom boom crashed as boosters overreached. Willie realizes that his team is overreaching now. That is why he's trying to manage matters so they don't turn out like they did in 2000. The fact that he has to manage matters against a broad based populist backlash, Prop B and C come to mind, indicates the vulnerability of his position. You're correct that the progressives are no threat. But that's not all that's out there that is a potential threat. See Prop B and C.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

The idea that it was only a SF thing and was somehow the fault of Willie is ridiculous. It happened in Silicon Valley, elsewhere in the country, and globally. Willie Brown had little influence and to think that shows how parochial your thinking is.

Endlessly singing about a Props B/C just goes to show how few victories you have, as if a single building matters anyway. I see dozens of high-rises going up and you are powerless to prevent them.

The city is changing and you feel unable to adapt. That says more about you than it says about the city.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:36 am

A new techie in town uses a lot less water than a Hispanic family in the Mission who get displaced to Oakland.

Have you seen how many laundry joints there are in the Mission. Those guys wash curtains, blankets everything. They have 50 pound machines there

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:27 am

Same load for water etc. We'll adapt and manage - we always do.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:19 am

California can't take much more population. If the state's population stabilizes, so will SF's. Most people come to the Bay Area from out of state.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

Technology will save us.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 4:28 pm

We've tried that in the Bay Area for decades - as a consequence we have the most costly housing market in the country. People will move where and when they want and a drought isn't going to stop them. San Francisco has an extremely low per-capita water usage anyway, it's not going to go much lower.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 4:50 pm

everything and everyone. Then, usually during their midlife crisis, they finally realize that they are powerless to control the world.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

Reading this article one might be fooled into thinking SF is East Berlin in 1975 and the author is a member of the Communist Party.
I take great pleasure in knowing that most of these luddites will be evicted and will face the reality of their Socialist ideas in the Oakland ghetto.
I will savor every eviction of people who take part in demonizing those who work hard and use street terror tactics as a political tool.

Posted by Dani on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 9:19 am

who have a massive sense of entitlement, but who are gradually being phased out, one way or the others.

SFBG will not be around in a year or two.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 9:39 am

It was a strange and freaky trip while it lasted, but now it's time for saner minds to prevail...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

Gee - what a surprise. The employees who directly pocket the additional Sunday meter money did a "report" and guess what - it's working!

Hard to know if it is that people are more dishonest or naïve...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

Sounds highly subjective and ideological to me.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

The Gentrification and Eviction shuttles seem to be increasing in number unfortunately. I take the 33 each evening and Friday night I was talking with a friend who arrived to wait for the 33. We talked awhile and he asked me if I had noticed the steady stream of the Gentrification and Eviction shuttles coming down Castro going north. I said: Oh yes, anyone with any brainwave activity and who's the least bit observant would see them. First there was the Genetech Gentrification and Eviction shuttle that came down Castro and turned left onto 18th and stopped there. 3 techies got off. I took that opportunity to count the number of rows on that thing since it was well-lit inside to dispute Genetech's "120 cars taken off the street by this bus" green-washing bull shit, when the thing doesn't hold anywhere near that in passengers even at full capacity. It holds about 40 people at full capacity (ten rows and 2 seats per row). Though I don't expect useless trolls with a nanosecond attention span to even begin to understand any of that.

From the south on Castro, there was the steady stream of the ubiquitous double-decker white Gentrification and Eviction shuttles, a couple of the new blue ones (like the white ones) and one Bauer's IT Gentrification and Eviction shuttle. Then there were about 3 of the white ones that came from the north down Castro (from Market) and turned left onto 18th. That is an extremely tight turn for those big-assed buses. They shouldn't be allowed to turn there. They often conflict with Muni especially there.

We estimated we had just observed roughly 12-15 Gentrification and Eviction shuttles in a very short period of time. It was a steady stream of them. Most of them were pretty much empty. It was dark out and the shuttles were light inside. So San Francisco is now a bedroom community of Silicon Valley.

Then we noticed that the Korean restaurant at 18th/Castro had closed permanently and what's going in there is a sort of "fast-food" Greek restaurant, if it can be called a restaurant. It's a chain based in Arizona. My friend said he thought SF had a boycott of Arizona because of their hate laws against undocumented/unregistered immigrants. I thought the same. I looked it up. Yes we do have a boycott of AZ, but it's more symbolic than anything else unfortunately. Rather meaningless. So that would explain I suppose how this chain from AZ was allowed to locate at that site. When $$$$$$$$$ is involved, one's principles often don't matter at all any more.

The septic trolls who live on this BG site don't like me talking about the Gentrification and Eviction shuttles in part because it's critical of their messiah and savior Lee, and they have urged me to get a hobby. Why don't they? They never take their own useless suggestions? They hate on this site day and night and call it a "rag" yet they're never able to pry themselves away from this "rag." If you consider the BG a "rag" and all the other negative things you say about it and its writers, what does that say about you trolls who are absolutely addicted to this site?... no matter what flimsy and lame excuse you give for your parasitic existence here.

What sad, pathetic and septic people.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

then it follows that overall buses drive people OUT of the city and not INTO the city.

So you are 100% wrong.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

Where do these buses accumulate if there are more coming in than going out? Do they just circle endlessly?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

While some of them run back to the burbs for the day.

Far, far more people commute into SF than out of it, so the idea that a few shuttles is a big deal is clearly ridiculous.

If everyone who worked in SF lived here, housing would cost double what it currently does.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

This after this particular commenter has spent the entire weekend posting the same thing, over and over and over, despite being debunked again and again. LOL - someone please give this genius a job with Frontline - he's figured out the answer to it all!!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

here. Not even the appallingly clueless Marcos, or the cop-hating Greg.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

Not since lilli has their been a more self-deluded commenter on this site. In a way it's kinda sad - like lilli, who used to spend hours posting his "discoveries" this commenter truly believes he's on to something big - and that his discoveries have the potential to change daily life in the Bay Area. Imagine viewing yourself through that lens despite having nothing to show for your decades of sleuthing - the self-delusion required to maintain the front must be staggering, even by the already staggering self-delusion standards required for most San Francisco progressives.

It's somewhat awe-inspiring in its awfulness.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

Only the truth has stamina.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

"Only the truth has stamina."

Only in your dreams! The truth is rarely even exposed for public view. People often don't want to hear the truth. They'd rather choose Denial. Denial doesn't require any change in one's behavior. What is often presented as truth is merely lies and distortions and half-truths. What has stamina and what continues regardless is corruption, lies and deceit which devout members of the Lee Cult promote at every opportunity.

Posted by GuestInTheCastro on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 12:34 am

Whatever you say.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:27 am

Well that didn't take long. It worked just as planned.

I wrote this comment: Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

Even though I meant everything I said, I put out the bait and the trolls took it. Bait, hook, sinker and pole. All in one gulp. It was an experiment to see how long it would take for these useless trolls to all pile on and it worked. Excluding marcos. He's not a troll. I see he tried to overload one of the trolls---what exactly is that troll on? WTF? whatever it is you've had way too much it---with some critical thinking processes. That had to have blown that troll's synapses completely.

But as for the rest, these pathetics just sit around with nothing to do in their empty day and evening repeatedly refreshing their browser desperately waiting for someone they can troll. They must only be getting about 3 cents per click now in this economy. It's hard making a living being a troll, I would think.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

Our opponents are not crazy, they are engaged in a successful project of psychopolitical warfare to deprive us of our space and to convince us that we're marginalized.

That the SFBG tolerates indeed encourages this to go on speaks to their role in the process.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

Well I think some of them *are* crazy, but I get your point.

Why the BG tolerates it? I've often questioned that too. I know some people who no longer come to this site because of the comment section. That alone turns them off. They ask me: How can you read that shit? It makes me livid and boil inside to read that stuff. Yes, I know. Sometimes I stop at the end of the article and don't go any farther down the page because I don't like feeling terribly annoyed and feeling a sense of rage. Who wants to feel like that when they come on here? And usually the first comment under any political article is the same snarky, smug, patronizing "Guest" troll (our opposition) who hates the BG but lives on the site daily. I sense that part of this is because Tim Redmond perhaps locked in this "policy" so to speak of letting all comments stand, no matter how vile.

They need hits for the advertizement revenue and comment forums typically generate website hits. I would think this site does. Based on what Steven said awhile back in a comment about this site when asked, I think all they can do is to delete comments. This website is using old software and it doesn't update well to the point where---from what Steven said---they can't even install a registration system for the comment section. That's how bad it is. My guess is that it would be a monumental task---because of the archives/all the previous articles since the online site began---of switching the entire site to another software where comment registration is required (such as WordPress, for example). Changing a site to another software can end up being a major mess, even when someone knows what they're doing. So I think it is what is is. If SFWeekly and the BG were to merge under the BG name, then the BG could use SFWeekly's more current software and comment system, which requires registration. I think Marke does the "moderating" (when any is done) and that would take a lot of time.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 10:18 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:29 am

Only the ideologically pure and the brainwashed may be admitted into the inner sanctum that is SFBG.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:39 am

People who worship the free market are not likely to donate their time in this manner. Something else is going on, a political consultant or libertarian group is engineering this effort at forum dominance.

I've volunteered over time to help the SFBG strap on contemporary comment functionality to the website, including collaborative filtering with sign up and recommendation so that readers could like other users and see comments they like while unliking other users including the unregistered and hide their comments.

Steven and Marke tell me that they will not take proactive steps to protect commenters on their site from their site being used to perpetrate the crime of internet harassment. No, these require commenters to police the SFBG site so that it is not used illegally. This from the publication of record in celebrating the insulation of the most oppressed and vulnerable from taking any responsibility for their own emancipation.

The SFBG is done, stick a fork in it.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 7:28 am

far more than you or most here, and was rightly proud of the fact that he was willing to give space to critics, hear them out, and then try and debate them.

But others here fear that they may not have the knowledge, experience and rhetorical skills to win a debate, and seek instead to shut out or shout down those who disagree.

This is unfortunate, not least because the left has a long-ugly historical love affair with censorship and the suppression of free speech. It's strikingly odd that the elft have not learned from that, but SFBG evidently have.

I feel sure that hate speech and the like would be removed, but engaging in an ideological debate should never frighten a progressive whose ideas are solid and sound.

It's the chickens who seek silence.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 9:47 am

He claims it is the crime of "internet harassment" to refute him!

Hey, Marcos, report me to SFPD because I am disagreeing with you. In fact, I am laughing at you. What will I get? 5 years? 10?

Posted by anon on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:07 am

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