Up to code or not?
You tell me.
All right, I promised a history of the giant Christmas trees of San Francisco Civic Center in front of City Hall (aka the highest classical dome in the Western Hemisphere, believe it or not.*)
Here we go, from the mid to late Aughts, complete with a Star of Bethlehem atop. A shot from my office:
You know, keeping with Christian Tradition, as they say.
Well that didn’t go down good. So, in part due to some of my photos on SFist, back when Blogging Was King, and due to complaints of City Hall / SFGov workers objecting to having Christmas sort of imposed upon where there work – look it up on SFGate, Matier and Ross were on it – bye-bye Bethlehem star and bye-bye other overt displays of Christianity in and around City Hall.
But the tree stayed, and each and every year it came back, starless of course. And it was labeled a “Holiday Tree” in case there was any worry about it being a Christmas tree. Fine
Via Steve Rhodes, who, like Visa, is Everywhere You Want To Be.
And then, oh no, the garish lights on the tree! All those colors! Well, some rich white ladies about town thought they looked tacky, so away they went.
So that left us with this:
O.K. fine. Matier & Ross also had this story, about how the new, classier, white lights for white people cost RPD five figures, but that was OK, they said, because the colored Christmas tree lights would be able to be used in Golden Gate Park on Stanyan and perhaps they’re still in use, IDK.
Except this lack of color just wasn’t jazzy enough for other certain people.
So then came this:
So, the colors came out of the tree in front of City Hall and they went into City Hall itself.
Were these changes “improvements?”
No. But that’s what they were called at the time.
Anyway, that takes up to 2014, when we didn’t get any giant tree at all? NEWS TO ME! Did I not notice it wasn’t there? I forget. I tend to notice new things, I don’t tend to notice things what should be there and aren’t.
Here’s her beef:
“Hello. I was online trying to find info on why there was no Christmas tree outside of SF’s city hall in 2014, and I came across your post about the lights’ history during recent years. Regardless of any decor inside of city hall, i just don’t see why the tree was not part of last Xmas. I looked around online for info about the tree going up again this December, but any info on SF lighting ceremonies did not include a city hall plaza tree. I suppose the mayor’s argument for no tree is cost cutting and that people can go inside city hall to see some festive decor or head down to Union Square to join the tourists, but I find it pretty stunning that a major city has nixed its plaza tree. If you have an answer on this subject, I’d greatly appreciate hearing it.
It’s a Christmas Mystery!
*No no, the dome you’re thinking about (US Capitol Building) aint actually higher, OR it (San Jose City Hall or SuperDome) aint classical, OR it (St. Peter’s Basilica or Dome des Invalides) aint in the Western Hemisphere. Sorry. Look it up!
And here’s the caboose of this jaywalking / jay-running train:
I’ve been tilting at this windmill for a while now. At first on SFist back about 2007 or so and then on this tiny blog. The first TJ’s shopper death came a few years back. The next will come tomorrow or next year or in another five years, something like that.
What’s that, the speed limit here is 25 MPH and cars come through “speeding” all the time? Well, not really. Average speed for southbound traffic is fairly low. And for northbound, it’s not all that fast either. And oh, the limit on this stretch of Masonic is 30 MPH.
What’s that, Planning and DPW and the all-knowing, all-seeing SFMTA have a plan for Masonic and it’s coming soon? Well, not really. The project wasn’t as “shovel-ready as promised so they’ve loaned the Masonic-designated pork for other stuff. A “new” Masonic will eventually come, but not above Geary and TJ’s and all the photos you can see are all from north of Geary.
That’s the update for 2015.
I suppose I’ve been harping on this issue over the years.
Who created this problem? SFGOV, including the Planning Department, for starters.
Who can do a better job of fixing things? SFGOV, including the SFMTA, for starters. And IDK, SFPD and DPW? And Trader Joe’s as well.
Here’s a recent example, just a couple of Bros on the west side of Masonic wanting to get to a parked car on the east side, just above the SFMTA’s Presidio Yard. (Note that they might not even be TJ’s customers, but their transit across four lanes of traffic is at the same place where shoppers do it.)
All these southbound cars have stopped for the red light at Geary. So far, so good:
But uh oh, cars are now coming up from Geary in the northbound lanes – it’s time to rethink and try again later:
Or, in this case, spend 2.5 minutes going down the hill to Geary, wait for the green light, and then ascend back up Masonic.
This is the choice people face. Sometimes they err and get hit by a car.
I’ll tell you, if you look at the death rate in Frisco due to earthquakes the past century vs. the death rates of Trader Joe’s shoppers jaywalking in front of TJ#100 the past decade or so, they’re about the same.
What can SFGov and TJ’s do now to fix things, to account for Human Nature?
The switches up there are photovoltaic? So when they get covered with grime and whatnot the lights stay lit even in the daytime – that’s your clue that you need to fix the light.
Except this is Frisco, where the way to become a department head is, more or less, through elections fraud and/or sharing sports activities (such as jogging) with a so-called Strong Mayor. Ergo, the focus is on the political, as opposed to, what, common sense?
On It Goes…
Here you go, four streetlights in and around the Golden Gate Park Panhandle. From left to right:
1. ON ALL THE TIME SINCE EARLY 2015, on RPD Property.
2. ON ALL THE TIME SINCE EARLY 2015, on DPW Property.
3. ON ALL THE TIME SINCE THE PAST WEEK, on DPW Property.
4. ON ONLY AT NIGHT, on DPW Property – this one’s in the control group.
Q. Well, maybe this was at dusk, when the lights were turning on?
A. Nope. Daytime, nighttime, bright days, not-so-bright days. All the time.
Q. Well, this is just a few lamps, so this waste doesn’t amount to much, right?
A. Nope. There are other lights on as well. Just take a look at the Panhandle as you pass by, as thousands of well-compensated SFGov employees have similarly done. You can see these lights shining brightly, from a bus, from a car, whilst walking, whilst biking, you can see them from a box, you can see them with a fox, you can see them from a house, you can see them with a mouse. It all adds up.
Q. Well why don’t you just call 311 then?
A. ‘Cause 311 is for losers.* Actually, RPD is well-aware of this issue, one that they can see from their clubhouse at the end of … Fell Street. RPD just doesn’t give a fuck. Sorry.
END OF LINE.
*Oh sorry, loosers (if reading on the Internet).
I’m not saying that some lights come on earlier than others, when dusk comes. I’m saying that in the middle of the day, SFGov leaves streetlights on for no reason, you know, for some reason I’m sure, but for NO GOOD REASON.
Go ahead, take a look and then tell me why we’re leaving the lights on, some in the park (RPD responsibility?), but others across the street on Fell (DPW?)
Anyway, these streetlamps have been burning without pause FOR MONTHS.
Let’s see if I can pay off on that headline.
The stealing part has to do with the history of Hetch Hetchy, which nobody in SF officialdom wants to fix/deal with/discuss, ’cause SFGov conducted a bribery campaign a century ago and that’s The Way Things Are and that’s the way we likes it. OK fine.
And what’s this, SF now recycles a little bit of water the past few years, after all that criticism? OK fine.
But here we go, what’s this?
And what’s this?
And what’s this?
And at night too – so, who gives a fuck, right?
Anyway, that’s the recent past, but now here’s the here and now, or at least the past month or two – random historic street lamps in Golden Gate Park have been blazing away all the live-long day. See?
Do you think all the SFPUC/RPD/SFGov workers who claim to ride bikes to work might notice this and maybe say something to somebody after all these weeks and weeks? Oh what’s that, you merely testing the lights? Oh, well, maybe you are, maybe all these lights on makes sense somehow, the same way that watering the Panhandle bike path every night made sense, the same way that watering the Saabs of Fell and Oak made sense…
Here’s the sitch – drivers southbound on Masonic south of Geary want to get to the City Target lower level parking lot.
Here we go, looking south, with City Target to the left and behind a bit, so drivers need to make a U-turn at the light:
To help with this, our SFMTA rigged the traffic signals (which were paid for by Target, BTW) to start the green light phase of Masonic with a left-only signal for southbound traffic only, allowing one, two, three, or four cars to make a left or hang a Louie, depending on how alert the drivers are.
However, drivers who aren’t at the start of the queue know that it’s simpler and faster to make the U-turn further north, as this car just did:
So now we’re looking north, Gentle Readers, in all the rest of the shots – Tar-GHEY du Ci-TAY is to the right.
So the question is whether this is an illegal turn over the double yellows…
This sedan is making a legal left to go east on Anza as the Jeep in the background is making an illegal U to get to City Target:
I saw three drivers do this in about ten seconds the other day. I’m thinking it’s illegal but drivers are unlikely to get busted for doing it.
Now the bonus part about making a U-turn to use the lower lot is that it’s easier to find parking there and it’s generally easier to exit from, depending on where you’re heading after your shopping session.
I’ll say that once you’ve gone past the lowest parking level, getting out of the City Centre mall and back on your way can be convoluted – like even the best path might appear to be the “wrong” way to go.
Of course, nobody would design a system such as this – it’s just an accident of history. The question is how to handle things.
IMO, the SFMTA handled this sitch the wrong way.