Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

District 3: Don’t Vote For Just a Name

I was walking back from the David Chiu headquarters, from Polk Street & Bush over Russian Hill, through Chinatown to North Beach, basically diagonally across the district, and looking in at shops and chatting with tourists, I realized my greatest fear this supervisor election: that people who don’t know the issues will vote for a name that they know, Alioto. He’s not a bad man, but I feel he’s out of touch.

I wrote up a comparison on all of the nominees, if you’re interested in the issues. Basically, David Chiu takes the bus, wants the plywood gone, and has a serious plan on crime (as an ex-prosecutor). His parents were working the phones when I stopped by, and they’re adorable.

p.s. my iPhone camera is on the fritz, but in a funky way

The Have-Nots

From my window
You might have slummed it- I did- a period where you just had no cash. I was in Paris (hence the photo) and felt keenly the lack of money and opportunity in a large city. Being an urban dweller we can’t stop ourselves from developing “blinders.” I’m the first to admit it. Friend from Kentucky was walking around the Tenderloin with me, and kept stopping to talk to folks sitting on the pavement, giving them lists of shelters and just listening to their stories. I wasn’t upset at him, just made me realize how we do it, we turn a blind eye. Visitors from Minnesota were really shocked, and I was helping to explain the situation to their daughters- 15 and 11- who hadn’t seen a homeless person in real life, ever. My explanation? A kind of rehearsed, jaded, insidery opinionated rant on Reaganomics in California (they were very conservative Bush supporters) and how in SF it’s “easy to be homeless.” I’m not proud of my rant, but it’s what I felt at the time and is justified historically, and factually, at least. I did keep repeating, “It’s self-medication,” as most of the folks Reagan kicked out of halfway houses were addicts or managing pain and mental issues in their own way. Still, just because it can be explained doesn’t mean it isn’t an issue. Hopefully, with a solution.

My favorite local charity: North Beach Citizens. What’s yours?

This post was inspired by Blog Action Day, if you’re a blogger please contribute by writing about poverty.

North Beach/Chinatown Political CheatSheet

North Beach from Coit Tower Yikes there’s a lot of people running for the District 3 Seat. OK I’m going to create a little cheat-sheet, and update it as I get more information (as this will take forever to write). Feel free to add in comments corrections/additions. I picked out four major issues:

  • Crime: escalating homicides, and the ongoing Broadway Corridor issues.
  • Development: everyone’s abuzz with the plywood-ing of North Beach, and general development efforts (letting in chains, not letting in chains, spot zoning, etc.).
  • Transportation: The Central Freeway is coming! And, well, the usual suckiness of the 30-Stockton crowded scene on Grant St. any given day, and oh, the rudeness of drivers… cycling hostility, I could go on.
  • Rental Protection: Whether you’re for it or against it, it’s an expensive city and people get elbowed out- like our firemen & teachers, and rising rental rates mean less interesting mom & pop stores.

The chart reflects my notes made from the candidates’ web sites and not any other journalistic writeup, observations, conversations or gossip (that’s at the end!).

M. DeNunzio W. Pang D. Chiu
Crime MD: a priority, not top WP: unknown/low DC: former DA, high priority
Rental Protection MD: Important, as he’s into senior services WP: unknown/low DC: high priority & a plan
Development MD: Very strong, pro-development, though no plan WP: Lots of ideas, very important, lots of energy. DC: focus on small business & merchant corridors
Transportation MD: into transportation spending WP: unknown/low DC: cyclist & bus rider, high priority
L. Johnson J. Alioto C. Cheng T. Gantner
Crime LJ: foot patrols, after-school plan, SAFE. Top priority. JA: foot patrols. CC: n/a, active in homelessness (as assoc. with Crime) TG: foot patrols & meet weekly with Central Station
Rental Protection LJ: pro workforce-housing, not jus subsidized JA: unknown/low priority CC: active in community benefits TG: unknown/low priority
Development LJ: a priority, end to spot zoning, work with Planning dept. JA: incentives for new merchants. CC: focused on world trade relationships TG: a priority- active in Merchant Assoc.
Transportation LJ: unknown/not a priority JA: unknown/low priority. CC: Currently very active in RENEW SF and other transit committees TG: unknown/low priority

Candidate Sites:
Lynn Jefferson (LJ)
Wilma Pang (WP)
Joe Alioto, Jr. (JA)
Claudine Cheng (CC)
David Chiu (DC)
Tony Gantner (TG)
Mike DeNunzio (MD)

More reading:
Extra! ‘Culture of fear’ stalks Grant Avenue! by Tony Long

Joe Aliot, Jr. Enters SF Sentinel

District 3 – S.F.’s hottest supervisorial race Wyatt Buchanan of SF Gate

Opinion & Hearsay
So, I know someone who knows someone in the David Chiu campaign, and he sounds neat. I met Lynn at a fundraiser, and she was nice and eager to fix things. I walk by the Alioto headquarters every day. I haven’t really noticed my favorite shops endorsing one candidate or another. I’m mostly concerned, personally, with transportation and the plywood issue. I’m impressed with Connie’s Angel Island experience, that’s a really interesting bipartisan, historical and cultural level. Wilma has some energy and interest, and I like the global perspective that the Chinatown candidates have.

The issue with this race is that the 3 major areas- North Beach, Downtown & Chinatown – require someone who doesn’t have a real core bias, and can manage the peripheral, but also important areas- North Waterfront, Russian Hill & Telegraph Hill. If you get someone really entrenched with the residential communities like Lynn or Alioto, you miss out on the other areas- same with a Chinatown vote, as well as city-wide concerns (as transit is important across the city of course). So I looked at the more well-rounded candidates, that seem to target and address the issues that I’m mostly concerned with, and ended up with… drumroll please… David Chiu. Note: subject to change.

Plastic Bag Ban Update: Gap

union square This is my small world: kind of oddly upset that Gap gave me clothes in a plastic bag, and that none of the retail workers knew what the f** I was talking about- SF’s plastic bag ban. Heck, even Walgreens is giving me stuff in a paper bag (when I can’t cram it in my purse). This was Gap Kids in Union Square.

‘Temporary Transbay Terminal’ will be a block farther from Market St.

Map showing present TransBay Terminal and Temporary Transbay Terminal

Map showing present TransBay Terminal and Temporary Transbay Terminal

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, charged with replacing the present Transbay Terminal with a new, intermodal terminal possibly including a bullet train terminus, has revealed plans to relocate operations to a “Temporary Transbay Terminal” one block farther south and a block and a half east, to a spot bounded by Howard, Main, Folsom and Beale Streets. Click the thumbnail for a graphic showing the present terminal and the temporary new location.

The present Transbay Terminal primarily serves AC Transit buses for East bay commuters; Greyhound also has its San Francisco terminal there. Both these services will move to the temporary location.

Judging from drawings showing “prospective” appearance, the temporary terminal will be a circle of bus shelters with a few planters. The temporary terminal will displace a large parking lot whose customers are urged to consider alternatives, including not driving into the city at all. The parking lot will close Oct. 31, 2008 for construction of the temporary affair.

A note from Gav about the prop 8 kickoff rally saturday

Should be a good event, especially equal rights matter to you. This fall is going to be enlightening to see how the california populous ends up on this issue.

Dear Friend, Please join me Saturday in fighting for marriage equality at the No on Proposition 8 kick-off rally in San Francisco:

No on 8 Kick-off Rally
Saturday, September 6, 2008 – 10:00am
2278 Market St., 2nd Fl. (map)
San Francisco, CA

Let’s work together to stop discrimination from being written into our constitution.

I look forward to seeing you Saturday.

Sincerely, Gav

‘The Conversation’ to be a TV series

One of the most critically-acclaimed films of the great era of the 1970s, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, will be adapted for television by AMC, the same network with the hit Mad Men.

The 1974 film, starring Gene Hackman as a nerdish, inhibited surveillance expert, was shot entirely in San Francisco, and features extensive scenes in the pre-remodeled Union Square, the newly built Embarcadero Center, and the Cathedral Hill Hotel on Van Ness, then called the Jack Tar Hotel. The plot concerns Hackman becoming overly-interested in a conversation he’s recorded on behalf of shadowy corporate figures. As in Antonioni’s Blow-Up (and its American adaptation, Brian DePalma’s Blow-Out,) Hackman’s interest in small, unnoticed details of his record of the meeting get him into trouble.

The series would be set in the early 1970s, the same era as the film, according to the news report. Whether it would also be shot in San Francisco remains to be seen. AMC’s Mad Men, set in early 60s New York, is filmed entirely on a Southern California movie lot (as shown in this blog entry by Mad Men cast member Rich Sommer).

TV back on ‘Streets of San Francisco’

streets-of-san-francisco.jpgCBS will release a new version of the 1970s TV series “The Streets of San Francisco.” The original series, starring Karl Malden and Michael Douglas (seen at left), ran for five seasons from 1972 to 1977.

Producers of the new show suggested the old cop-young cop pairing of the series — to be duplicated in the new show — was similar to the 2008 presidential race. “One, like Obama, wants to be active and believes in rehabilitation, while the other one, like McCain, doesn’t quite believe in rehabilitation and believes that the enemy is the enemy,” said one of the writers.

Stupid idea of the year

Supervisor Chris Daly wants to close Market Street to all but mass transit traffic.

As I wrote in May, that idea has failed in city after city. In Chicago, State Street — “that great street” — utterly died when they tried it there. They re-opened the street to all traffic a few years ago, and the street is recovering.

Market Street isn’t some quaint pedestrian mall like Boulder’s Pearl Street, and it never will be. It’s a living artery in a major city. Daly’s plan would be an economic and social disaster.

Changes Around Union Square: Some Good, Some Bad

Union Square
[Click the image for a larger version. Photo by Jeremy Hatch.]

The picture above is of a moment in the sun in Union Square Tuesday afternoon, as seen from out in front of Macy’s.

One of my favorite cafes was located in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel at the corner of Sutter and Powell. I never learned its name, but it was a European-style cafe, good for a salad, sandwich, or pasta, with espresso, tea, or a glass of wine. When I was new in town I went there all the time. For no particular reason I stopped going earlier this year, and sometime between my last visit and yesterday afternoon, they replaced it with a Starbucks. Damn. You look away for a second, and there goes another one.

So I satisfied myself with Cafe Fresco at Hotel 480, which will probably be my future Union Square hangout. It definitely deserves better than this Yelp review. (But what do I know, I only had a Pellegrino Limonata.) Once I was inside, I realized that I’d actually been there before, years earlier. It was a cold rainy day, and I was playing hooky from high school in a town about a hundred miles to the south. (Gas was cheap back then.) I got a double espresso, and sat down next to two guys a little older than me; maybe they’d just graduated from college and had gotten jobs downtown. In their black raincoats and ties and fashionable glasses, they looked so damn sharp, and I have to admit I felt a little intimidated. It seemed that I could never live up to that level of effortless cool, and that possibly I’d never really “make it” in San Francisco. That was some fifteen years ago. By now those once-intimidatingly cool guys are probably thickening into sedate middle age, and I learned a long time ago that San Francisco is not all like Union Square. Thankfully. I can “make it” here; in fact, it seems likely that I couldn’t anywhere else.

On the positive side of change: the Disney Store at Powell and is going away for good. I really, really hated that store — and my hatred intensified whenever I had to wait on that corner for the light. This Yelp review pretty much sums it up, if you’ve never had the displeasure.

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