Monday, April 16, 2012

Civic Center Community Benefits District

New signage has gone up in Civic Center Plaza that at first glance looks like it's announcing some weird collaboration between the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco Ballet, but on closer inspection turns out to be announcing the arrival of the Civic Center Community Benefits District. According to their elaborate looking website, what looks like the numeral "1" is actually the new entity's shape on a map, with Market Street as the slanted boundary at the top.

Community Benefits Districts are formed by the additional taxation of local businesses and property owners in a San Francisco neighborhood. Even with a $7 billion budget, the City and County of San Francisco somehow can't provide such public amenities as basic beat policing, help for tourists, and graffiti removal. Last week I ran into my first "community ambassador" above, and after it was established that I actually live in the mini-district, he asked if there was anything he could do for me.

"Two things, actually," I told him. "Could you please tell that phony cripple in the wheelchair begging over there in the middle of Van Ness Avenue to stop tearing up all the shrubbery in the neighborhood looking for hidden drug stashes?"

"I'll have a word with him," the young man said.

"Secondly, if you're feeling brave, you could tell all the bicyclists riding on the sidewalks around here to get the hell off them before they mow a pedestrian down." The ambassador laughed, and said, "Nah, those bicyclists are way too tough," and on cue a bicyclist came zooming by us (not pictured) and had to suddenly swerve to avoid smashing into a pair of elderly ladies on their way to a ballet matinee.

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