Thursday, November 07, 2013
Post-Election Roundup at SPUR with David Latterman
The San Francisco Planning and Research Association (SPUR) urban planning think tank group has a checkered history, acting as the intellectual arm for M. Justin Herman, San Francisco's first Redevelopment Agency Director in the 1950s. Herman came from the federal government and knew how to successfully apply for the millions of dollars that the U.S. was spending on "urban renewal" after World War Two. The Redevelopment Agency, with SPUR as its justifier, was responsible for destroying thousands of Victorian homes in the Western Addition and evicting their black residents to nightmarish high-rise projects. Thousands of poor people who lived in single hotel rooms South of Market were also evicted for the Yerba Buena Center development which took about thirty years to build while a huge empty lot stood for decades in rebuke.
Herman also created the Diamond Heights development and the Golden Gateway/Embarcadero Center area which did not injure quite as many people. To be fair, most of this information can be found on SPUR's website, and they have acknowledged that "mistakes were made" during some of these historical redevelopment projects. Now they have new, improved projects in mind such as the densely built apartment and condo complexes that are currently rising everywhere in San Francisco along transport lines.
SPUR moved into new offices on Mission Street near Yerba Buena Center in 2009. On the day after every municipal election, in their fourth floor conference room, they have been hosting a voting trends lecture for devoted wonks by local political consultants David Latterman and Alex Clemens.
I arrived late for the beginning of Latterman's remarkably ugly PowerPoint presentation with a University of San Francisco logo on the top right. Rather like the SF Chronicle and Ed Lee and SPUR itself, who all eagerly supported Propositions B and C on Tuesday, Latterman was quick to dismiss the issue and the moment of citizen pushback towards San Francisco's de facto rulers. "This was not about growth and development, Lennar won the last election by the same margins as this lost." Most of the audience thought his "YAWN" bullet points were amusing rather than offensive. I wasn't one of them.
Latterman seemed more interested in talking about the elections next year, and how none of the incumbent supervisors needed to worry about any challengers, nude or not. It was another reminder that we don't have a city government, we have a "City Family." The majority of our current San Francisco politicians are appointed into incumbency by their predecessors to ensure the "correct" results in an election, and the con just goes on.