SF wants to let speculators and developers pay far less than they owe for providing Muni service — meaning the rest of us have to pick up the tab

It costs money to serve all those new developments — but the investors aren’t paying their share

By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 8, 2015 – One of the simplest doctrines in modern urban planning is also one of the most powerful: Growth should pay for growth.

Seems simple: You want to put up a new office tower or condo complex in San Francisco? That’s going to mean the city needs to buy more Muni buses and hire more drivers to move your new workers or residents around, and more firefighters and cops to protect your property, and more public works people to maintain the roads that suddenly have more cars on them, and more water and sewer infrastructure to handle what you take in and put out … and the list goes on.

Since developers in this city typically make gobs of money for themselves and their investors, it makes sense that they should pay for the costs or serving their projects. Otherwise, the rest of us have to pay – and that’s clearly unfair.

How do you know how much new projects cost the city, and how much they pay in taxes, and what the net impact is? Well, there are people who study this sort of thing for a living, and while I can accept the complaints of critics that not every study on urban economics is accurate and paid consultants have a tendency to deliver what their clients want, there’s a certain consistency in many, many years of analysis that says developers in San Francisco pay far less than their fair share.

Back in the early 1980s, transit and environmental advocates argued that, at the very least, office developers ought to pay for impacts on Muni. The city did a study, and it showed that the impact ran to almost $10 a square foot – that is, every square foot of new office space cost the city almost $10 in new Muni expenses. Then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein wouldn’t go for that; she finally settled on a $5-a-square foot charge.

The fee has gone up a little over the years – most projects now pay between $13.85 and $14.50 a year — but has never been enough to cover the actual costs. And market-rate housing developers have never paid a penny.

So the SF Planning Commission will hear a proposal Thursday/13 that would change the name of the fee, simplify its structure, and apply it to market-rate housing projects.

The proposal comes out of the Mayor’s Office, and is sponsored by Sups. Scott Wiener, London Breed, and Julie Christensen.

As is usually the case with these things, you have to read the fine print to get the point. Which goes like this: The proposed fee is way, way too low to even begin to offset the costs of new development.

Before the city can charge a fee, it has to do a “nexus” study to look at the actual cost of providing the service. If the fee is higher than the cost, that becomes a “tax,” which under state law requires a vote of the people.

So the nexus study tells us exactly how much a service (providing Muni to new development) really costs. That’s called the “maximum justified” fee. If the fee is above that, it’s illegal.

So the economists look at the costs of Muni service and other transportation needs, spread out over about 30 years, and analyze how many workers will fill the new offices or residents will live in the new condos, and how much pressure that will put on transportation, and how much it will cost to meet the increased demand. It’s actually not that complicated: We know how much bus service costs per rider, and how much wear and tear on the streets costs, and how much parking and other improvements costs. These studies have been done many times over the years, in many place.

In this case, the nexus study, by Urban Economics, found that the real cost of meeting all of the city’s transportation and street needs is as high as $87 a square foot for office buildings.

The proposed fee is $18.04.

For residential buildings, the real cost of Muni and other transportation services could reach $30.93.

Those developers would pay $7.74.

This is what we could legally charge developers, based on the actual costs of providing transit to new buildings
This is what we could legally charge developers, based on the actual costs of providing transit to new buildings
This is what the mayor and Sups. Wiener, Breed, and Christensen want to charge developers
This is what the mayor and Sups. Wiener, Breed, and Christensen want to charge developers


Now: Maybe the nexus study is high, with the consultants using every trick in the book to give the city as much leverage as it can. Maybe it’s off by, oh, 50 percent. (I don’t think it is; the numbers seem pretty solid to me. But I lack a Ph.D, so let’s give the critics lots of leeway.)

The taxpayers are still getting screwed.

The total annual fee is projected at $14 million, or $420 million over 30 years. Sounds like a lot of money. Except that if we charged even half of what we should, that number would be in the billions.


Why so low? Well, the City Planning Department report explains it this way:

The economic feasibility study found that the current market could support $7.74/GSF for residential uses and $18.04/GSF for non‐residential uses citywide, or roughly 125% of the levels proposed in 2012 (accounting for cost inflation). These fees would amount to an increase of roughly 1 to 2% of construction costs for residential developments, and less than 1% of construction costs for nonresidential projects, depending on project and construction type.

The study found that this would not have a major impact on overall project feasibility or resulting housing costs in neighborhoods where most new development is occurring.

The study also found that raising the TSF above these proposed amounts could inhibit development feasibility in some areas of the city and for some project types. New development in certain neighborhoods in the City – such as the western neighborhoods and outer Mission – have lower than average price levels and rents and may not be financially feasible given the current high cost of construction relative to potential revenues. While the TSF itself will not cause these developments to be infeasible, it may further distance these areas from development feasibility.

Read that again, carefully; it’s a pretty amazing statement.

A fee that actually covers the costs that developers are throwing on the city “could inhibit development feasibility in some areas of the city and for some project types.” Not apparently, for the luxury condos and Class A office space that’s being jammed into every available lot downtown; just for smaller projects on the west side of town that aren’t getting built anyway.

So the city is taking into account what the developers can afford to pay – forgetting that most development in the most attractive areas right now is returning at least – at least – 15 to 20 percent for investors, and in many cases much, much more.

But let’s step away from that for a second. Someone has to pay to keep Muni up to date. If developers bring tens of thousands of new residents and workers to the city and don’t pay the full cost, then either (a) Muni gets more crowded and slower (sound familiar?) or (b) the rest of us — the collective homeowners and renters, office workers and house cleaners, hotel bellhops, bartenders, hospital orderlies, teachers, nurses, cops, nonprofit service providers, and the rest of the collective San Francisco Muni users, drivers, and taxpayers — have to cough up more for bus fares, parking meters, sales taxes, and bond payments to keep the essential services alive.

Charging a fee that keeps the rest of us poor suckers from underwriting international speculative real-estate investors and giant developers might make some buildings less “feasible?”

Well guess what? From the city’s point of view, then, those projects shouldn’t be feasible.

Why is it feasible to let a developer make a profit on the back of the ordinary taxpayers, Muni riders, and parking-meter users?

Shouldn’t growth pay for growth – at the full rate?

After the Planning Commission hears it (and staff recommends approval, so with this commission it will likely go through), this latest giveaway to developers and speculators will go to the Board of Supervisors.



Member of the faculty union at City College have voted by a 93 percent margin to begin funding a Strike Hardship Fund, the first step toward a strike that would be a disaster for City College.

The vote was overwhelming for a very good reason: The salary offer that management has put forward is far, far from what the faculty is seeking. AFT Local 2121 wants a 16 percent cost-of-living increase over the life of the contract to bring “full-time faculty salaries above the median of Bay Ten community colleges and to restore losses to inflation (CPI) to all unit members.”

Let’s recall that in 2007, the union members took pay cuts and salary freezes, and haven’t had a raise since then.

Management’s offer is a 1.1 percent raise about 2007 salary levels – for full-time faculty only. Part-timers would get nothing.

I can tell you from talking to union members: That’s not going to work.

The union has also asked that enrollment be a part of the deal – the teachers want to help bring back the students who have been lost through the accreditation ordeal. Management says that’s none of the faculty’s business.

So this will be a test for the newly empowered Board of Trustees. City College is still struggling to get out of the deep hole that the ACCJC dug. A faculty strike is the last thing the board should be willing to accept.

Typically, governing boards leave these negotiations to hired management until the last minute. But this situation isn’t typical.

By the way: When the ACCJC started its crackdown, there were political leaders all over the city, starting with Mayor Ed Lee, who tried to blame City College and said that the accreditors had raised valid points that needed to be addressed.

But now, as my friend and former colleague Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez pointed out in this exceptional column, it’s clear that those people were wrong. The problem was never City College; it was the ACCJC. And now that the state has agreed, and it’s increasingly likely that Barbara Beno and her colleagues will be out of business pretty soon, we need to look back at the people who were wrong about this and call them out.

Meanwhile, there will be a remarkable community hearing Wednesday/9 to discuss faculty working conditions and student learning conditions at City College, SF State, and the SF Art Institute.

Jobs with Justice is hosting the ’ Rights Board hearing on the future of higher education in San Francisco, with a panel of city and state educational leaders hearing testimony and issuing recommendations.

The event’s at 6pm at St John the Evangelist Church, 1661 15th St.

  • folderpete

    Yeah. What he said!

    But gee, does that mean the “affordable” housing mafia is gonna pay for all their growth too?


    • Jon Kozone

      Tim needs to leave RE taxes completely out of his ‘analysis’ in order for it to make any sense. Give the guy some slack, he has a job to do.

      But you’re right, and it’s not only the taxes on the commercial structure that are involved. If “developers bring tens of thousands of new residents and workers to the city” then those tens of thousands also pay RE tax (or pay rent so that their landlord can pay RE tax).

    • sffoghorn

      Affordable housing residents consume city services and affordable housing developments should pay property tax on the lower values of their permanently affordable parcels.

  • Kyle Huey

    So if we need special one-off fees for roads, buses, police, fire, etc, what do our property taxes pay for?

    • RealFakeSanFranciscan

      Apparently, they’re here so the city can overpay for Mission land – so that we might someday house people with connections to D9 activists, for twice the cost of doing so on plots elsewhere that the city already owns.

    • sffoghorn

      Property taxes pay for ongoing operations and maintenance of existing public systems. Capital costs for expansions is not included in the tax funded operating budget.

      • SciLaw

        Since the new construction goes for over $1100/square feet and are taxed accordingly, that means new owners are being taxed at least 2x (if not more) than similar owners so the logic that they’re merely funding existing public systems is flawed if they’re paying double.

        • sffoghorn

          Kindly prove that one taxpayer paying a multiple of other taxpayers covers the costs of providing government operations. Prop 13 does not work that way.

          • HotToddy

            Property tax revenues increase by an average of 7% a year even with Prop 13, because of new build, re-sales and capital improvements.

            There is not a revenue problem.

          • sffoghorn

            Inflation in San Francisco is running at close to 7% per year.

            Even if there were not municipal corruption skimming a lot off of the top, there would still be a revenue problem. The Planning Department stipulated at the time of the approval of EN and MO that new construction covers neither its infrastructure nor operations costs to the City.

            As usual, your data points make you the outliar.

          • HotToddy

            Prove that 7% local CPI number.

            Even if it were true that new build does not pay for itself, increasing the cost of those new homes would make SF even less affordable

    • Good question. What do ANY of our tax dollars pay for? Endless wars? Golden Parachutes and bonuses? Hookers and cocaina?

      • Chris Courtney

        Clerks in Kentucky. California is a donor state.

        • HotToddy

          As a wealthier state, CA should pay more. We’re all socialists here, right?

  • But – but – commies! Lie-berals! SOCIALISM!!!

    Let the endless #paidtroll whining begin…

  • GarySFBCN

    If it isn’t financially feasible to build because of having to pay for the impact on MUNI, then reduce the profit expectations or don’t build.

    As it is now, MUNI is worse than I’ve seen it in 3 decades. Why? Due to population growth, there’s too many people and too few buses.

    Nobody wants to pay for the true cost of anything, but those who profit from this city need to pay their share for infrastructure.

    • folderpete

      So we’re not supposed to say peep when the “affordable houing” mafia pays nothing (because a handful are beneficiaries), but they cry like mad when @MF developers pay at least a portion of these costs (because a handful are beneficiaries)?

      • GarySFBCN

        Who said you aren’t supposed to say peep?

        • Ssstella

          Gary, tell us a story about Barcelona.

          • GarySFBCN
          • wcw

            Hey, neat: that Inside Airbnb site is super useful. If you limit San Francisco listings to those that are entire units, highly available and recently and frequently booked, there are somewhere between 500 (multi-listing hosts only) and 1,600 units in San Francisco that Airbnb has taken off the market.

            That seems much very believable, and much more reasonable than the five and ten thousands being bruited about.

          • GarySFBCN

            My only hesitation is that it isn’t clear who is behind this. It is entirely possible given AirBnB’s culture to post something like this with manipulated data, to avoid regulations or to confuse competitors.

          • wcw

            It’s not? The site literally has a ‘behind’ link.

            It looks painfully sincere, with not a hint of astroturf:

            The early seeds of the project were sparked while Murray was working with Clarisa James, the Executive Director from DIVAS for Social Justice over the summer of 2014, where he co-taught youth of Central Brooklyn about gentrification..

          • GarySFBCN

            Yep, it does seem like the real deal. North Beach looks pretty bleak.

          • Y.

            Wow. Yes, the numbers are a lot lower than the upper range of claims. It’s still amazing how many entire units are AirBnB’ed, with low occupancy yet. The 409 entire units in the Mission are more than the 345 proposed for 16th & Mission.

          • GarySFBCN

            If I understand the data correctly, I think the story in the Mission is that 100% of the listings are by people who have more than one listing.

          • Y.

            I see 40% multi-listings in the Mission, on the high side, but not as high as North Beach (45%), Outer Sunset (45%) or Chinatown (49%). Chinatown in particular has a higher fraction of 3-6 listings/lister, perhaps apartment buildings entirely converted to hotels.

          • Y.

            In New York, some neighborhoods (Greenwich Village, SoHo, all that area) are around 80% whole-unit rentals, i.e. hotels.

          • wcw

            The numbers are small, though; fewer than 400 recent and frequent in the West Village, population 34,000.

            It’s a regulatory issue and likely a source of friction for neighbors, but it’s not a significant source of housing pressure.

          • Y.

            What I was getting at is that there they seem to have a majority of people who own multiple properties, rather than people who need extra cash. I was thinking about the battling images.

          • wcw

            That isn’t clear; there are plenty of people out there now offering Airbnb management services. Most probably aren’t, though.

          • HotToddy

            There are some good reasons to use intermediaries to manage short-term lets, even though it adds an extra layer of complexity and cost.

            For instance, A does a “long-term” let to B. B does not live there (hence no rent control) but B successively sublets to C, D, E etc

            Neatly sidesteps the regulations, at least for A. While B is much less likely to be picked up on since he is not the owner of record. And the short-term tenants are really sub-tenants/roommates.

          • Y.

            Here’s another thing. The Mission has a total of ca. 25,000 units. If the citywide vacancy rate (about 3%) applies to the Mission, that means about 750 units available. The 409 units given to ABB are significant in comparison.

          • wcw

            Recent-and-frequent seems important; if a unit is not being booked, it’s not really on offer. Highly available, too; otherwise, the unit seems seasonal rather than withdrawn from rental.

            The Mission and Bernal have fewer than 300 such, out of 30,000 units total. That matters on the margins, sure, but the number to which to compare is not for-rent vacancies (1.6% in 2013), but all vacancies (7% for 2013). Most vacancies in San Francisco are not for rent; most are either seasonal or other.

          • Y.

            I saw a figure of 3.6% rental vacancy rate, 4th quarter of 2014, in a Forbes article. Not sure where the numbers are from. I expect it’s lower now, and lower in the Mission, hence my 3%. So 1000 available units, vs. 300 AirBnB plus maybe 100-200 from other services. Not overwhelming, but significant.

          • wcw

            Compared to a shortfall of development versus population of around 15,000 units since 2010, an Airbnb conversion effect of perhaps 1,000 units seems to matter, but on the margins.

          • HotToddy

            There is no reason to believe that airbnb makes any difference I was doing short-term lets 15 years ago, long before the sharing economy was even conceived.

            The real point is that owners don’t want to do long-term rentals because of the rent laws. So the real solution is fixing the rent laws and not ever more invasive regulations.

          • GarySFBCN

            It does, but then there are people like Sam who claim to use Craigslist and other sites in order to avoid obeying regulations and evade taxes.

          • wcw

            Sam? Sam started to ring really hollow when he turned into a successful portfolio manager whose book he won’t post is so fiendishly complex we mere mortals can’t understand it.

            Anonymous online wish fulfillment is even less of a dataset than actual, real anecdotes like that trip on the 38.

          • Y.

            Sam started to ring hollow when he mentioned that he has two teenage sons at a local school.

            I do wonder how much of him is a sociopath, and how much is a wannabe sociopath.

          • jhayes362

            They are in private schools.

          • Y.

            Maybe he really does have offspring. Shudder.

          • HotToddy

            jahyes is correct – they are in private school.

            The fact that I don’t share your weird politics doesn’t make me an unfit parent, unless your obsession is even more bizarre than we thought

          • Y.

            “obsession”? “we”? Huh?
            It’s not your politics. It’s your mental issues. I just have a hard time imagining you around human beings.

          • HotToddy

            My political options are far more normal and mainstream than yours. It is the SF extremists who typically could not support a family. And insulting someone serves only to show that you know you cannot win the debate.

          • HotToddy

            Why would anyone lie about that?

            At least make your accusations credible.

          • HotToddy

            Yes, because nobody who invests in securities would ever also invest in property.

            You want to post your portfolio first? Didn’t think so.

          • HotToddy

            I’ll publish my positions as soon as you do.

            And I never said I am currently a fund manager. Why do you lie, wcw?

          • wcw

            The excuses, in order:
            1, you peons wouldn’t understand
            2, this is off topic
            3, I know you are, but what am I?

            Only ex-PMs have a personal book of interest. Current PMs for all but the most rinky-dink of managers (I’m looking at you, Larry Fink) follow compliance rules to prevent conflict of interest.

          • HotToddy

            Maybe you would understand my positions. You just haven’t shown any indication of that so far.

            My positions are not germane to this discussion. It is not reasonable to ask for information that you are not willing to give yourself.

            I only mentioned it originally because you were struggling to understand why you were losing debates here despite throwing out endless reams of data and statistics. I helped explain that to you via the analogy of a fund manager and a research analyst.

            I declare my positions to those with a need to know. You are just beign nosey and seeking to deflect.

          • wcw

            ..and there is 4, espionage compartmentalization requires it.

          • HotToddy

            5) When losing a debate, employ obfuscation and a seven-syllable word, and hope the other party is impressed

          • wcw

            Look, dim bulb: anyone who brags about having been a Big Swinging Dick Master of the Universe needs to put up or shut up.

            Larry Fink may be an ass, but his firm manages $5 trillion. Post a book to impress someone with a clue, or zip it.

          • HotToddy

            If I wanted to impress you I would not need to show you a portfolio. I would only need to state the portfolio value. In either case I could lie and you wouldn’t know, so what would be the point?

            I guess my research analyst categorization got to you, because you usually don’t get all personal like Y, Gary and foghorn do.

            You’re really just probing to discover more information about me in the hope you can use it as ammunition when losing a debate. Given that, I feel sure you will understand why I do not agree to drive this discussion even more off topic than it already is.

          • wcw

            ..5, my trading book will embarrass me.

          • HotToddy

            You are wasting your time. I am not going to be your dancing bear. If you cannot defeat me on the topic, then invasive distractions won’t work either.

          • wcw

            With a stable permit allowing a male goat, keep the does separated from the buck to avoid a goaty taste to their milk.

          • HotToddy

            I never said I use CL to avoid regulations.

            What I did say is that progressives are missing the real issue by focusing only on Airbnb when anyone who wanted to stay under the radar would be dumb to use Airbnb at this point

          • GarySFBCN

            Yes you did.

          • HotToddy

            A statement of what someone says they are going to do is not the same as the fact of them doing that.

            I find it fascinating that you keep a database of my comments. A little weird and obsessional, for sure, but flattering as well. Keep it up

          • GarySFBCN

            “A statement of what someone says they are going to do is not the same as the fact of them doing that.”

            It was you, so stop with the third person nonsense.

            And if we can’t take you at your word, you have no credibility. But most of us figured that out 8 identities ago.

          • GarySFBCN

            Here is what you said in a similar context, to avoid regulations:

            “So if you live next door to me then your only valid argument is that zoning doesn’t allow it. BFD. As the article notes, the Planning Dept cannot possibly enforce such vague notions anyway. And they surely have better things to do.”


            And you will do this to avoid regulations in the proposed initiative:

            “Luckily I am going to do it anyway. Maybe use European sites since most of my guests are from Europe anyway. And it will harm nobody, which just goes to show what a snide petty-minded and invasive initiative this is.”


          • GarySFBCN

            OK, here is something to ponder: Last year, after a huge protest by residents over displacement and general assholism of the tourists, the city of Barcelona conducted a quick survey of the Barcelonta neighborhood and found 400 illegal rentals. Inside AirBnB lists 266, and I believe that there are actually more tourist rentals now than last year – they’ve just gone to other websites.

          • wcw

            The article made it sound like illegal short lets are a longstanding problem in Barcelona. If a complete census last year turned up 400, then an Airbnb share around 300 seems reasonably in line.

            In SF, maybe double the Inside count to 1,000 to estimate units lost. Craigslist is tiny, but VRBO isn’t; overlap with Airbnb probably comps for the non-multi units that truly are lost.

          • GarySFBCN

            Last year, Barcelona fined AirBnB and 7 other similar businesses 30,000€ each for illegal rentals. Geographically smaller than San Francisco, with a population of 1.6 million, AirBnB-type rentals have been a big problem in many neighborhoods, with longtime residents and businesses being directly or indirectly displaced. Everyone is concerned that if nothing changes, Barcelona will become the ‘next Venice’. It doesn’t help that young tourists come to Barcelona to ‘party’; if there were more older or serious travelers, I think everything would be better.

            The 400 units found in that neighborhood was the result of a quick and NOT comprehensive review of units in a few blocks. It was not a review of the entire neighborhood.

            Here is another article:


            And here is what was the “last straw” in a relatively conservative neighborhood:


          • wcw

            It’s hard to become the next Venice with a population of 1.5m; Centro Storico probably topped out mid 100,000s, back when.

            30k€ isn’t much of a fine for a business, unless it was daily.

          • HotToddy

            It’s also not clear how a foreign city would collect on their fines if a US company decided not to co-operate by paying it

            If the Iranian government fined you $100 a day for not being a Muslim, would you pay?

          • wcw
          • HotToddy

            I never said that no such fines are collected. I said that that is usually a voluntary act if you are outside the jurisdiction of the finer.

            Airbnb is just a listing service that could be located anywhere. The idea that they have to co-operate with everyone everywhere is a little naive.

          • wcw

            Mohsen Amir Aslani was hanged in a prison near the city of Karaj west of Tehran on Sept. 24, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), which is based outside Iran, for “corruption on earth and heresy in religion”.

            Few people are too intellectually incurious to click a link and read a headline, yet also sophomoric enough to respond.


          • HotToddy

            I never click on your links, for obvious reasons.

            The topic was collecting fines outside of your jurisdiction.

          • HotToddy

            CraigsList isn’t that tiny, although one CL location might be.

          • wcw

            Craiglist has 100 vacation rentals listed in San Francisco. Airbnb has over 5,000. VRBO has over 1,000.

            When you are down more than 60 to 1, you are tiny.

          • HotToddy

            There are hundreds of other CL city sub-sites. So you might advertize your SF home as a vacation let in NYC, London, Paris etc.

            People who live in SF don’t usually stay in a SF hotel for their vacation

          • wcw

            What do other cities have to do with how minuscule Craigslist vacation rental listings are in San Francisco? It’s tiny.

          • HotToddy

            Sure, I can go slower.

            If I have a SF property that I want to rent out short-term (e.g. for a vacation although it may be for another purpose) then I might advertize that on the SF CL sub-site.

            But I also might advertize it on the NYC CL sub-site, or London, or wherever I think the demand is

            People who rent short-term in SF are usually from some place else, so marketing in those other places makes sense.

            There are European versions of CL as well, but I’ll let you google them since that is where you get all your information

          • wcw

            There are zero San Francisco vacation rentals listed on Craigslist NYC. There is one Bay Area vacation rental listed on Craigslist London, in Oakland, taking pains to say Rockridge.

            When you are down 6,500 to 0, stop digging.

          • HotToddy

            I guess you didn’t find my ad’s then.

            Good. I don’t want too many prying eyes, just paying eyes.

          • HotToddy

            Airbnb has never taken a unit off the market.

            Owners do that, and there is no saying that those units would have been re-offered for long-term controlled rental if Airbnb had never existed

          • GarySFBCN

            Really? “On awakening the next morning, the two women realized what had happened to them and immediately filed charges with the local police. When they returned home to the U.S., they reported the attack to AirBnB, who then removed the renter from their website.”


          • HotToddy

            That alleged incident does not address anything I said in my comment

          • GarySFBCN

            You: “Airbnb has never taken a unit off the market.”

            Me: “. . .they reported the attack to AirBnB, who then removed the renter from their website.”

          • HotToddy

            Context, Gary. wcw made a throwaway statement that Airbnb has taken units off the market. They cannot do that. They can stop listing a unit but that unit is still on the market – just not via Airbnb

            It is owners who remove units from the (long term) market. And they do that because of the rent laws and not because of Airbnb, which is just a listing service.

          • GarySFBCN

            The half-filled gourd makes the most noise, Sam.

          • HotToddy

            Deflections are an admission of defeat, Gary

          • GarySFBCN

            Context is important. I missed that you were responding to wcw. But you completely missed his point.

          • HotToddy

            It was easy to miss his point because he misstated it

    • wcw

      Muni seems as ‘meh’ as ever. Traffic is worse; adding 80,000 people will do that. A congestion charge would reduce traffic and raise money for transit besides, but seems infeasible in the face of automobile culture entitlement.

      • GarySFBCN

        I had to ride the 38 a few times earlier this year. If that is any indication, MUNI is dying.

        • wcw

          Anecdote is not data. The survey numbers seem to register a resounding ‘meh’ (3 out of 5) with little variation. The on-time numbers are punk, but they have been since Muni stopped goosing the numbers by 15-20% with indefensible methodology.

          Muni is an embarrassment, but that’s not new. Nicknames like ‘the dirty 30’ didn’t pop from Zeus’s head just this year.

          • GarySFBCN

            Our buses are filthy.

          • HotToddy

            Have you offered to volunteer to clean them?

  • sffoghorn

    Perhaps if Tim’s affordable housing mafia friends at CCHO/SFIC did not fold like chairs, go down literally like $5 whores on command, cutting deals that give developers what they want with minimal take as long as crumbs go to CCHO/SFIC, then “the left” would stand up against the developer shake down and the costs of development would not be balanced on the backs of existing residents.

    There is no way to fund Muni to make it run reasonably well on surface lines so long as growth-instigated surface traffic that the nonprofits folded for on our behalf creates gridlock.

    • Auto traffic is getting worse by the day. The City could make a fortune by simply ticketing yellow light runners and intersection/crosswalk blockers. And when is MUNI going to start designing busses for the people who actually use them; people in wheelchairs, with strollers, bags of groceries, and bags/luggage/backpacks/bicycles? The new hybrids look nice and go fast, but are as cramped as a sardine can.

      • HotToddy

        Good to see a progressive arguing for more staff for SFPD.

        There is a conflict here. If buses are well suited to the classes of people you cite, then those buses will be less efficient for what is their most important job – getting people downtown quickly for work.

        When a disabled person gets on a crowded bus during rush hour, the hisses and groans are audible. It’s not that people aren’t sympathetic. But that is a significant economic cost when extrapolated across all services and commuters. Throw in the inevitable stinky homeless guy mouthing off and it drives high-value commuters to use their cars instead.

        It’s like the announcement about putting your own oxygen mask before your child on a plane. We have to look after our wealth creators first and foremost or else we won’t have the money to look after the poor, the old, the homeless and the disabled

      • sffoghorn

        You would think, but ticketing motorists would cut into Ed Lee’s base. Ticketing cyclists, on the other hand….

        The MTA has decided to appeal to transit choice riders at the expense of the transit dependent. Abuelitas with bundles of groceries are going to need to suck it up and walk the extra long block on Mission.

        • HotToddy

          80% of SF voters live in a household with a car. About 3% of voters regularly ride a bike. What would you do.

          The primary function of Muni is to get people to their jobs. It’s not a welfare service for low achievers

          • sffoghorn

            What would you do.

            I would invest in a transit system that could offer a viable alternative to private autos per the Transit First provisions of the Charter that have been repeatedly ratified by the voters.

          • HotToddy

            The voters are happy to ratify a slogan like Transit First”. They probably would support world peace, an end to famine and a pony for every little girl.

            Whether they will pay much higher taxes to throw at a dysfunctional organization like Muni is another matter

    • Ssstella

      Our smarter, more progress-oriented supervisors are already thinking about solutions:


      • GarySFBCN

        I agree with Wiener on transportation policy and little else.

        Ideally, we’d have a transportation chief in SF, and it would be Scott. Maybe we lobby to defund part of the MTC to fund this.

        • HotToddy

          This won’t surprise you but transit is the only policy area where I think Wiener is wrong. He is my supervisor and I love the guy, but he’s a wuss on transit.

      • sffoghorn

        Talk is cheap. There has been talk of this for some time. By the time this ever gets traction, if it does, Weiner will long since have made his next move. It has taken almost 20 years for the MTA to implement BRT. This MTA cannot get there from here.

        • HotToddy

          Fancy new transit requires money and a much larger tax-base, which comes from development and increased values.

          Wanting one without the other is, as you say, cheap talk.

  • chasmader

    Even when you do levy development impact fees and the fees are collected, there’s no guarantee that the money will be spent effectively. I remember 10 years ago when we had a “rain event” and Soma was flooded. It turned out that the PUC had spent all of their hook up fees from the new buildings that had recently gone up, not on capital improvements, but on operations.

    • wcw

      It is a real shame that city government is not better run. There would seem to be a real opportunity for a competent city government to borrow as much money as the market will let it have around 4% to build housing.

      • And a municipal bank would make it all work.

        • HotToddy

          I’d like a pony too.

          • wcw

            A pony requires a stable permit. No permit is needed for one or two female goats for the exclusive use of the owner’s family.

          • HotToddy

            I think you might have missed my point

          • wcw

            A healthy goat doe will produce almost a gallon of milk a day.

          • GarySFBCN

            There’s a saying in Hawaiian: The half-filled gourd makes the most noise.

  • HotToddy

    There is a hole in the logic here. Tim complains that these new developments cause displacement. I don’t believe that at all but that is what Tim believes.

    So if a new development creates 100 new jobs that does not mean that the population goes up by 100. For a start 50 of those jobs might be taken by people already here, so no net increase in services.

    Of the other 50 who move to SF for those jobs, maybe half of them will live outside of SF. That leaves just 25 new residents of SF and, according to Tim, they displace 25 poorer people.

    Net effect? Zero. In fact it is positive because the new people will pay more in tax and consume less in services than the poor folks they displace.

    Impact fees are a shakedown. Call it what it is

  • HotToddy

    Please pretty please I hope that the CCSF staff go on strike. I suspect that management is aching for an excuse to fire some of them. This strike gives management the cover they need to further downsize this failing institution.

    Strikes can sometimes be effective when the strikers have real leverage and a crucial public service is affected. But CCSF teachers striking merely hurts their impoverished students and nobody else. If CCSF strikes, nobody will care, or probably even notice. Especially since the students have been politically aggressive as well and so attract little sympathy

    And of course the good students will enrol elsewhere if they feel the teachers aren’t committed and professional.

    So yes, a strike please.

  • Kevin Smith

    Why don’t the homeless pay their fair share ? They just take and take.