Archive for August, 2011

Mayor Ed Lee’s First TV Spot is Extreeeeeeeemely Generical – Here It Is

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Well on the day that some long-simmering issues are percolating up, out comes a two-minute TV spot, his first:


Hey, has Ed Lee ever had a big rally, you know, the way Gavin Newsom used to have?

Not to my knowledge.

Octavia Boulevard is Our Fork-Tailed Doctor Killer – “Livable Streets” Gone Awry – What Can We Do?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Let’s see, where to start with horrible Octavia Boulevard.

Oh, here we go, with some bold, confident words from all the way back in 2003:

“The replacement freeway and Boulevard were charged with ensuring a level of service comparable to the previous structure and configuration. This has been achieved…”

In no way, shape, or form does the newish Octavia Boulevard have a level of service comparable to the old Central Freeway.

And, BTW, did the Central Freeway block Fell, Oak, Page, Haight and Market? Nope. Does Octavia Boulevard? Yep, every day, all the time.

(This is an example of misplaced confidence, of the hubris.)

Now, what kind of signal timing does it take to accommodate a 3000-mile-long freeway ending on Market Street. Well, let’s take a look here. Do you notice that Market street peds have about four seconds to begin the journey across Octavia during the 95-second cycle? Why is that? I mean, that means that any given ped on Market has over a 95% chance of having to stop and wait for all those cars on Octavia to go by. Is that fair? Now, what about cars and streetcars and bikes and buses and whatnot heading outbound on Market – do you think it’s much better for them? Well, it’s not. Just 20-something percent of the traffic signal cycle allows traffic to flow uphill on Market at the Octavia Intersection. Why are the lights so biased in favor of the cars driving through on Octavia, you know, as opposed to Market Street?

Check it (oh yeah, that’s some homeless dude coughing at the end there, not me.)

Now, the term “fork-tailed doctor killer” used to be the nickname of the Beechcraft Bonanza, you know, the plane what killed Buddy Holly on the Day That Music Died. But that whole V-Tail sitch got addressed and now, Beech makes those Bonanzas with regular old straight tails. So let’s recycle this phrase and use it for Octavia Boulevard, why not?

Here’s the fork of the tail:

Now, how can I justify blaming the whole “Boulevard Movement” fad of the aughts for an famous accident that killed that UCSF doctor if the UCSF van driver ran a red light? Well, take a look at this:

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See? Sometimes half the lanes of Oak have a red light and the other half have a green. Does that make sense? Well, if you’re struggling to make pathetic Octavia work and you don’t want traffic routinely backing up to Golden Gate Park, well then you yourself would be tempted to do whatever you could to help Octavia flow.

Does this unorthodox design factor in human nature, you know, the nut behind the steering wheel? No, it doesn’t. The fact is that car drivers, those sheeple, follow the pack. If the car to the right goes, then they want to go.

Of course, drivers should do better, but we need to factor in their behavior when we design roads, right?

What we shouldn’t do is to let Hayes Valley insiders, that very small but very influential group, to design anything for the rest of us.

And BTW, why on Earth are left turns allowed on inbound Market onto Octavia? Could it be for the convenience of those Hayes Valley insiders?  Check it out. You’d think that Hayes Valley types would be satisfied with being able to make a left at the prior intersection or the next intersection, but no, traffic on Market has to wait on a dedicated signal for a dedicated lane of drivers.

Does that make sense?

Why not this? Why not narrow Octavia dramatically and just give up on the whole boulevard experiment? Just take out the frontage roads and all that on-street parking and those medians and that would be a good start on “completing” the Horrible Octavia Experiment, turning it into a “Complete Street.” Even the Great Designer of Octavia admits now that the boulevard is too wide.

And let’s get rid of that left turn lane that was built just for the NIMBYs of Hayes Valley. Why should Market Street, the more important one, take a back street to Octavia, which is basically a glorified freeway onramp?

And why not give people on Market Street half the time of the light signal and then the people on Octavia the other half? Wouldn’t that be more fair?


Or, we can continue to value higher condo prices and “trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques” over everything else in this world:

“Before the destruction of the Central Freeway, condominium prices in the Hayes Valley neighborhood were 66% of San Francisco average prices. However, after the demolition and subsequent replacement with the new Octavia Boulevard, prices grew to 91% of city average. Beyond this, the most dramatic increases were seen in the areas nearest to the new boulevard. Furthermore, residents noted a significant change in the nature of the commercial establishments in the area. Where it had been previously populated by liquor stores and mechanic shops, soon the area was teeming with trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques.”

Our City Family: Labor Council, Chamber of Commerce, and Warren Hellman Unite to Fight Jeff Adachi’s Prop D

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Well here’s the news of the day – it’s the launch of

And look who’s the headliner of this Fellowship, it’s “Civic Leader” Warren Hellman, who used to play for the other team, so to speak.

Anyway, all the deets, below.

That Warren sure loves his banjo:

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“PAULSON, FALK TO CO-CHAIR YES ON PROPOSITION C PENSION REFORM CAMPAIGN – Top Labor Leader, Top Business Leader Tapped To Lead Consensus Coalition

SAN FRANCISCO, August 31, 2011 – San Franciscans United For Pension And Health Reform today selected Tim Paulson and Steve Falk to serve as co-chairs of the campaign supporting Proposition C and opposing Proposition D on the November ballot.

Paulson is executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, comprised of 150 local unions and representing 100,000 workers, and Falk is president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, a 1,500-member organization representing the business community.

“We are pleased that San Francisco’s top labor leader and top business leader are working together to lead this coalition’s campaign for pension and health reform,” said Thomas P. O’Connor, president of Fire Fighters Local 798. “Unions and the business community don’t agree on everything, but on Proposition C, San Francisco is united.”

Falk praised Proposition C, which was developed with input from the community, introduced by Mayor Ed Lee, and passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors.

“Proposition C saves taxpayers at least $1.3 billion over the next decade,” said Falk. “This measure is fiscally responsible and it will help keep us solvent.”

Paulson emphasized the measure’s fairness.

“Proposition C provides a safety net for hardworking city employees who earn lower wages,” said Paulson. “It keeps pension contributions stable for those making less than $50,000 a year. Those who make more pay more.”

O’Connor drew a contrast between Proposition C and Proposition D, a rival pension measure.

“Proposition C has widespread support because it was conceived in the light of day, with a public process that encouraged input and ideas from everyone,” said O’Connor. “On the other hand, the backers of Proposition D bought their way onto the ballot with signature gatherers who were paid five dollars a signature and repeatedly got caught on tape lying about what the measure would do.”

Today, San Franciscans United For Pension And Health Reform also announced the other members of its campaign committee. In addition to Paulson, Falk, and O’Connor, the committee includes other business and labor leaders, along with the measure’s sponsor at the Board of Supervisors:

Warren Hellman, Civic Leader
Gary Delagnes, President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association
Sean Elsbernd, Member of the Board of Supervisors
Steve Fields, Co-Chair of the Human Services Network
Larry Mazzola, Business Manager and Financial Secretary Treasurer of UA Local 38
Rebecca Rhine, Executive Director of the Municipal Executives Association
Bob Muscat, Executive Director of IFTPE Local 21
Sean Connolly, President of the Municipal Attorneys Association

Please visit for more information.”

That ZenDesk Company Can’t Afford Gavin Newsom’s 2004 “Twitter Tax,” But It CAN Afford $1 Million to Charity?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

[UPDATE: So is Zendesk the only San Francisco company that hasn’t threatened to move out of San Francisco lately? Apparently, see the Comments. BTW, did you know that:

[a]ny tweets that mention Zendesk are immediately turned into what we like to call a “twicket,” that is, a tweet that is converted into a support ticket.

Well, that’s news to me.

Oh, and here’s your chance to get in on the land rush:

“Central Market Street and Tenderloin Area Payroll Expense Tax Exclusion is now publicly available and can be found on the Office of Economic and Workforce Development website,, as well as on the new Central Market Partnership website, Applications are being accepted now, and the deadline to apply for the 2011 tax year is November 1, 2011. Please contact the Office of Economic and Workforce Development at 415-554-6969 with any questions regarding the application for the Payroll Expense Tax Exclusion.”]

I don’t really get this one here. Zendesk needed corporate welfare to move into the Mid-Market and it wasn’t going to do so anyway, do I have that right?

Leave us review. Former Mayor Gavin Newsom signed a payroll tax into law back in 2004. But a half-decade later, Twitter decided that it didn’t like Gavin Newsom’s tax, so an exemption was made for Twitter, and others so bold as to set up shop in an area that was mapped out by real estate interests and others, only Gaia knows.

Now we hear that ZenDesk agreed to expand in Mid Market thanks to the recent Twitter Tax waiver?

Is that the narrative?

A tourist takes it easy after an eventful day in the Mid Market a couple months back. I forget how many people got shot all told:

Via Bluoz – click to expand

So here’s the latest:

“We <3 SF. To prove our commitment to this rad city we’ve pledged $1M to @UCSF @Benioff Children’s Hospital:

Now, is it possible that ZenDesk didn’t need that subsidy to move into the Twitterloin? Sure seems that way. Mmmm…

And let me assure you that nothing has substantively changed betwixt Dot Com Era I of the late 90’s  and our current Dot Com Era II as far as stock options are concerned. Obviously, a San Francisco company going public might not want to deal with the 2004 tax signed into law by Gavin Newsom. Obviously. So what’s changed the past seven years?

Here’s “interim” Mayor Ed Lee from this year:

We’re not about punishing any companies that need to grow and grow fast,” said Mayor Lee.

So why did Gavin Newsom sign his tax into law back in aught-four? Did he do it to “punish companies?” Did he do it to “kill jobs?” Was Gavin Newsom a “job killer?”


Hey, how about this? Why not treat all companies the same? Why not get rid subsidies for biotech? Why not address concerns about Mid Market without corporate welfare?  

“SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 31, 2011 — Zendesk, the leading provider of proven, cloud-based help desk software, today announced a $1 million pledge to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

“Zendesk was founded in Denmark and moved to San Francisco in 2009,” said Mikkel Svane, Zendesk’s CEO. “We have been humbled by the wonderful way we have been welcomed to this city and its vital high-tech community. As Zendesk continues its rapid growth, we want to share our good fortune with the city and people that helped make it possible. As a father and client of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, this charity is especially meaningful to me.”

Zendesk is kicking off this year-long effort with a sponsorship of the Salesforce Foundation’s Concert to Benefit the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital to be held on Thursday, September 1, 2011. Zendesk will host its customers, partners and employees to attend this charity event. Throughout the next year, Zendesk will donate a portion of its sales, as well as hold other fund-raising events, to deliver on its $1 million pledge. In addition, its employees will participate in volunteer programs for the hospital.

“The Salesforce Foundation has been an inspiration to us on how to integrate philanthropy into a company’s culture,” Svane added. “Today’s announcement is just the first of many demonstrating Zendesk’s gratitude to the city of San Francisco. Having just moved into new headquarters in the Central Market, we also look forward to making our new neighborhood a better place to work.”

“It’s great to see Zendesk, one of San Francisco’s rapidly growing tech companies, already giving back to the citizens of San Francisco,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “We are grateful to them for their generous pledge to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.”

About Zendesk

Zendesk is the leading provider of proven, cloud-based help desk software. For growing organizations, Zendesk is the fastest way to enable great customer service. More than 10,000 Zendesk customers, including Adobe, MSNBC, Sony, OpenTable and Groupon, trust Zendesk with their most valuable assets, their customers, partners, and employees. Founded in 2007, Zendesk is funded by Charles River Ventures, Benchmark Capital and Matrix Partners. Learn more at”

Does This Meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) Look Like a Fire Code Violation?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Usually, meetings of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) are fine, but sometimes they’re out of control.

Like this one. (Doesn’t it look like an episode of Geraldo?)

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Actually, everybody, including people who hate each other, was very civil in light of the fact that this venue in the corrupt Twitterloin was way, way too small for the number of people inside.

Now, this was the endorsement meeting what ensured Malia Cohen would become District 10 Supervisor, so, you know, it wasn’t the typical monthly joint. But with people routinely packt like sardines in a crushd tin box at certain times, it’d be nice if the DCCC could find a new place for the bigger meetings, you know, ones that wouldn’t end up becoming a massive fire code violation.

Triangle Shirtwaist and whatnot.

Just saying.

Two Wheels Bad, Three Wheels Good: Bikes aren’t Allowed on Market Street Sidewalks But Pedicabs are A-OK?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011


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Missed Connections on Masonic: Did These Guys Ever Meet Up With These Gals?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

The scene at Fulton and Masonic, from across the street whilst entering Lucky.

Three dudes looking lost:

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The same scene just five minutes later, whilst exiting Lucky.

Three gals looking lost:

You’d think they’d have cell phones, but maybe not.

I hope they were able to find each other…

SoMA Sentinel: The Loneliest Tree in San Francisco Towers Above the I-80

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

See? (Keep in mind that this is an elevated freeway.)

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It’s even higher than our world-famous Coca-Cola sign. 

Keep on keeping on, giant tree.

Electric Car Update: First Privately-Owned Nissan Leaf Sighted on the Streets of San Francisco

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Remember this:

Everybody associated with electric car companies thinks it’s OK to lie to you. All of them.

OTOH, Nissan is not an electric car company, so not everything they say is spun into a lie. Isn’t that refreshing?

As here, where Nissan said it would deliver the LEAF last year and it did.*

(And, of course, the haterz at poorly-performing Tesla and CODA and others defunct and not-yet-defunct are still hating**)

It’s taken a while, all of 2011 so far to be exact, for me to see a LEAF in the wild and not as a part of a Nissan event.


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Now, can I ask why Mayor Ed Lee has a gas-powered plug-in hybrid from Government Motors instead of an all-electric Nissan Leaf? (The answer might have something to do with the feds kicking in for half of the cost of Ed Lee’s Chevy Volt, and the power of the UAW, and the fact that people at City Hall thought it was an actual electric car. Oh well.)

Anyway, here’s your number one City runabout, garage definitely required.

*I think it was just five units delivered, which was less than Nissan thought it would do for 2010, but by the standards of the industry this is exemplary performance. 

**It was a guy from CODA who said that “housewives” wouldn’t “feel comfortable” in the LEAF, you know, cause it’s so weird-looking, basically. He made this statement while inside a warmed-over electrified Mitsubishi (Carisma, aka CODA Sedan) straight outta 1996, ironically.

Dennis Herrera Throws Down: PG&E San Bruno Blast Hearing Supports His Lawsuit – Plus Rob Reiner Hearts Dennis

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Here’s the news of the day from City Attorney Dennis Herrera:

“Herrera says NTSB hearing on San Bruno blast offers ‘devastating indictment’ against PG&E, regulators – Findings strongly support Herrera’s July 14 notice of intent to sue CPUC, PHMSA regulators

SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 30, 2011) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera has issued the following statement in reaction to today’s National Transportation Safety Board meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss and adopt the pipeline Accident Report relating to the natural gas pipeline explosion and fire that occurred in San Bruno, Calif. on September 9, 2010.

“NTSB’s report offers a devastating indictment, not just against PG&E, but also the California Public Utilities Commission and federal regulators for their failure to reasonably enforce safety standards,” Herrera said. “These conclusions point to the lax regulation that has enabled PG&E to flout regulations and safe gas pipeline operating practices for decades. NTSB’s report thoroughly supports my office’s allegations in my notice of intent to sue and in our comments to the CPUC. It makes clear that both agencies have a great deal of work to do to better regulate gas transmission pipelines and protect public safety. I commend the NTSB staff for its thorough investigation and comprehensive findings, and NTSB members for unflinchingly adopting the staff’s recommendations.”

More than half of the recommendations adopted by the NTSB today are directed at government entities — including CPUC, DOT, PHMSA, and the Governor of California. NTSB has indicated its intent to publish its synopsis of findings, probable cause, and recommendations at the following URL following today’s meeting:

On July 14, 2011, Herrera took the first step toward suing the California Public Utilities Commission and federal regulators for not reasonably enforcing gas pipeline safety standards as required by the federal Pipeline Safety Act. The notice of intent to sue is a legally-required precursor to civil litigation by San Francisco, which will seek a federal court order to compel the CPUC and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to enforce federal pipeline safety standards in an effective manner.

PG&E runs three major gas transmission lines — including the very same line that failed catastrophically in San Bruno last year, and another that dates back to the 1930s — under nine high-population-density neighborhoods in San Francisco where hundreds of thousands of people live and work, according to Herrera’s 14-page letter. Major facilities threatened by the failure of these inadequately inspected transmission lines include numerous schools and recreation centers, San Francisco City College, and San Francisco General Hospital, which typically contains more than 5,000 acute care patients and visitors, medical professionals and staff. Significant stretches of Highway 101 and Highway 280 additionally run over the antiquated lines.

Herrera’s July 14, 2011 notice letter outlines San Francisco’s prospective legal action, detailing the manner in which CPUC and PHMSA: (1) failed to enforce federal regulations mandating that pipeline operators maintain adequate records to enable the operator and regulators to ensure that pipeline conditions are not a threat to public safety; (2) failed to enforce federal regulations requiring that gas transmission pipeline operators identify all “high consequence areas” in which pipeline failure would result in significant harm to people and damage to property; (3) failed to enforce federal regulations mandating inspections of gas transmission pipeline integrity for pipelines susceptible to manufacturing and construction defects or other risks; (4) failed to ensure that CPUC had staff sufficient in number, training, and experience to adequately fulfill its obligations to regulate and enforce pipeline safety regulations; (5) failed to ensure that integrity management inspections of gas transmission pipelines in California are performed with sufficient frequency and thoroughness to ensure pipeline safety; and (6) failed to require PG&E to correct violations found in audits of PG&E’s integrity management practices.”

Man, that PG&E has issues, huh?

In lighter news, Rob Reiner explicates his ardor for Dennis Jose:

“I’ve been active in statewide politics for decades.  I chaired the Prop 10 campaign in the 1990s to create the groundbreaking “First 5 California” program, which delivers critical services to millions of children from birth to age 5. I took on big developers to save our state parks and wildlife.  And I fought big tobacco to protect public health, and to reduce its influence in Hollywood.

But it was as co-founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights—which initiated the federal legal challenge to Prop 8 that eliminated marriage equality in California—that I had the opportunity to work closely with San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

And that’s why I’m endorsing Dennis Herrera for Mayor of San Francisco.

Not all San Franciscans fully appreciate the extent to which California looks to their city for strong, progressive leadership on issues that make a real difference in people’s lives—like civil rights, the environment and consumer protection. But we do. 

That’s why what’s at stake in the 2011 San Francisco Mayor’s race is so important to all Californians.  Dennis has a serious plan to create jobs and make San Francisco a model of a 21st century city.  His proven record of leadership and professionalism is best suited to continue San Francisco’s honored tradition as a beacon of innovation and progress.

Will you join me in supporting Dennis Herrera by making a donation of $10, $35 or $100 today?

Dennis Herrera filed the first government lawsuit in American history to challenge state marriage laws that discriminate against lesbian and gay couples. His principled advocacy for the broad societal imperative of ending any-LGBT discrimination continues to make a persuasive difference in the courts in our fight for marriage equality.

A strong advocate for early childhood services, Dennis shares my conviction that government can and should do more to support schools, children, parents and teachers. And his record of accomplishment on consumer protection, the environment and public integrity is unmatched

Dennis has the best plan to make San Francisco a model 21st century city—and to continue San Francisco’s tradition as a beacon of innovation and progress.

I believe that Dennis is the right choice for San Francisco. Will you help him become San Francisco’s next Mayor by making a donation of $10, $35 or $100 today?

Thank you so much for your support of Dennis.


Rob Reiner

P.S. There are only 70 days left until the election and every dollar makes a difference, can you chip in and donate $10, $35 or $100 today?

Only 70 days?