City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Scott Beyer
Missing the Forest for the Trees « Back to Story

View Comments (17)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 17 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
Don't worry, when the next BIG ONE comes to SF, they'll get to start all over again.
Look what Loma Prieta did for SF.
The left simply hates civilization. They live in a little utopian dream world and sport bumper stickers that read, "Who's Your Farmer," as if we should all buy from the guy next door. They deserve nothing but derision and laughter from the rest of us.
Everybody should oppose higher density urban areas. Check out the election maps. The left runs California only because of LA and SF. Similarly, the Dems run the US only because of the high density urban areas.

It's strange how this is never addressed by political pundits, particularly on the libertarian right. The country is being densified to death.
On one hand, the Left's "Agenda 21" would have us all herded out of suburbs and towns, into high-rises in a few urban centers, to facilitate reforesting the rest of the continent. This would seem to be Sierra Club's wet dream.

On the other hand, the Sierra Club is opposed to actual instances of dense development, because "social justice" or something.

On the gripping hand, it's fascistic totalitarianism that won't tolerate anyone thinking or doing for themselves.
I see this all too often in my city of Boulder, CO. Our leftist city gov't working at cross-purposes with their own goals. They want more revenue for their social programs, but discourage people from locating here (too much development), which would generate it. They claim they want to reduce pollution, and yet our city is dependent on tourism, and so often forces people to commute in from out of town. It refuses to do small things like time traffic lights (so that cars do less stopping and starting at intersections, which creates most of the pollution), or create more parking spaces so that people have to drive around less to find one. The city does this to annoy motorists, with the idea that if it's annoying enough people will "get the message" and stop driving their cars so much.

I see this over and over. Leftists appear conflicted, but perhaps it's not as sincere as I think it is. They want revenue, but don't want things that would encourage it. They say they want to reduce pollution, but don't do the things that actually would. Is it all a shell game? I wonder.
In coming off the sidelines to join the Proposition 8 campaign to protect the waterfront, the Sierra Club was at its best.

Contrary to Mr. Beyer's uninformed polemic, San Francisco's objections to waterfront development are not now....nor ever have been....about money. It's possible to both oppose sprawl and favor urban livability. San Francisco has a time honored tradition of preferring an open waterfront to a commercialized Miami/Waikiki style waterfront.
Mr. Snellgrove's difficulties with his 8 Washington complex were hardly unique. Back in the 1960's San Francisco officialdom slipped the Fontana Towers past a mostly distracted public. But the public outrage that followed the construction of the ugly twin boxes, later dubbed the buck teeth of San Francisco, soon lead to the imposition of the 40-foot height limit that protects much of residential San Francisco to this day. Next came a proposal to insert the fifth largest building in the entire world between the waterfront and the northeast side of Telegraph Hill. That project went down in flames. When U.S. Steel decided it wanted to build a 60-story headquarters building just south of the Ferry Building, the outcry was deafening, until U.S. Steel quietly pulled out. Oceanic Properties fared no better with the six-story monstrosity it wanted to extend 1,300 feet into San Francisco Bay in place of Piers 1 - 7. Despite plans to replace Pier 45 with "something more suitable", it's still there and going strong. As are such once-threatened architectural and historic gems as Ghiradelli Square and the Canery Warehouse. More recently the Mills Brothers, even though strongly backed by then Mayor Willie Brown, got nowhere with their big plans for Pier's 27 - 31.

The campaign to protect San Francisco's waterfront continues.

Gerald Cauthen
510 208 5441
Scott Beyer missed the point of the opposition by a long shot. The Snellgrove machine and Teacher's Union Pension Fund that finances him ignored everyone who might be harmed by his proposal and tried to muscle their building into place.

San Francisco has had previous experience with view blocking high rises (the 1050 North Point buildings) and now knows how to respond. Snellgrove also picked the wrong neighborhood to harm. Further, he also tried to grab recreational space - part of a swim and tennis club - to build his building on.

In large measure it's a matter of being too greedy. Snellgrove needed a parking garage for his office property on the water across the Embarcadero. Perhaps if he'd stuck with that he might have won. But instead he went way up above that with multi-million dollar condos (which would have had the great views his building would have deprived all of the neighbors behind it of).

The developers were arrogant and greedy and got the defeat that they deserved. Shame on Scott Beyer for ignoring the real issues. This was a people and neighborhood driven response to a bad project. The environmental groups came in later, much later.
The Sierra Club is right about 8 Washington and even more right about Treasure Island, which has 2,300 residents now and will have 19,000 if the project okayed by City Hall is implemented. Think traffic on the Bay Bridge is bad now?

That project highlights the fallacy of transit-oriented, dense development---that packing people into urban areas won't have a seriously negative impact on traffic. Let them ride bikes! Or an inadequate, under-funded transit system!

Not surprisingly, developers love the dense-development theory, like SF's Market and Octavia Plan, which will allow 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness, eliminate setbacks and backyards and restrict the amount of parking developers can provide in new housing for thousands of new tenants. That leaves more space for housing units and higher profits.

It's just delusional, and progressives who buy into it are playing the developers' game, since little "affordable" housing will be built.
Any community that allows the Sierra Club and other "environmentalist" organizations that much power really deserves San Francisco's fate. There are other communities which would welcome this development. Maybe if the Warriors moved, and if developers moved to friendlier locations, SanFrancisco would wake up. If not, it deserves its own fate.
Does the Sierra Club's resentment stem from "the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere is getting rich"? Maybe. But if so, only when they want it to. After all, right now, zillions of government subsidy dollars are being funneled into phony green energy scammers--giant wind and solar companies--who are industrializing massive tracts of beautiful, open wilderness. And what does the Sierra Club have to say about it? Not a GD thing.
Sounds like the developer needs to pay some bribes. Graft seems to be the only way things get done.
We are in deep trouble when private property ownership rights are subordinated to the "vote" of ill-informed people. Do they really not understand how the USA got where we are today? And why feudal ownership of property with centralized control won't work? Would never live in California. And let's work to be sure this doesn't spread any further.
This is the same Sierra Club whose policy prescriptions favors unrestricted immigration in the belief it has no effect on the environment. So, it appears that the Club wants more people but less density. How, exactly, does that work?
The certain end result of this sort of stinking thinking (Sierra CLub, thinking? Pardon the oxymoron...) is the continuation of the massive exodus from California and other llike-minded places. If venture capital cannot be invested without insane and prohibitive cost increases of the sort plagueing this development, investors will simply take their money and designs elsewhere, promoting healthy growth in other parts of the country. If an investment will not realise a profit, better to find another that does. WHO are the Sierra Club to decide what goes on? Will THEY fund the area after so much tax revenue is removed elsewhere? Then the only ones left in that sinking city will be Section 8 housing, some who work for government (city or county) wealthy retirees who will not invest locally, and Sierra Club members eating tofu, wearing Birkies, and riding their Surly Town Bikes everywhere..... and scratching their heads wondering how such a "wonderful" city went broke and can't provide the services residents need and want. (no tomatoes, I am a VERY avid cyclist..... )
Lake Worth - So what evidence exactly did you offer to refute the piece? Also - your non-sequitor about Christie - well the 43K per child for the state excludes the health and pension benefits for the teachers in NJ. That is why the cost per capita is so mis-leading for education in the public sector. But what is the corroboration for the 90K/capita? And the 470M?
Sore loser, eh?

No links to opposition positions on the web, so we'll have to truth that this author is afraid to have readers consider them. Also this:

"It reflects resentment, sadly typical of America’s far Left, of what development represents—capitalism and the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere is getting rich."

The usual stick-up-the-arse whining when someone fails to make more money. whatever the public issues involved.

BTW: Chris Christie has "privatized" Special Needs schools in NJ. Price tag for annual fee shot up from $43,000 a student to $90,000+ a student. All dumped on School Boards and property taxes. Betcha that makes somebody "rich." Total of $470,000,000 statewide for "privatization."

Write about that one.
Pure Volvo-driving NIMBY, just like Cape Wind. "I'm in favor of it so long as I don't have to see it or live near it." They should build a huge wind farm in SF Bay, so the city can reduce its carbon footprint.