Monday, December 30, 2013

Civic Center 2013 in Review, Part Three

13. Construction Mania

The Hayes Valley neighborhood and Market Street from 8th to Castro has been dotted with gigantic construction cranes all year, building huge luxury rental and condo complexes, which may help alleviate the housing shortage in San Francisco, but probably do little to bring sky-high prices down.

14. The Taxi Upheaval

The San Francisco taxicab industry has been seriously undermined by its new smartphone-fueled competitors like Uber and Lyft. Taxi drivers held numerous protests this year, honking their horns while driving around City Hall, but the public doesn't seem very sympathetic to their cause after decades of terrible, spotty service.

15. The Center for New Music Arrives

The young composers Adam Fong and Brent Miller opened a collaborative office, rehearsal and performance space in the heart of the Tenderloin last year near Market and Taylor, and it's turned into a heartening success. Members are given a space to perform and keep all the money from the door, which allows for risk, experimentation and fellowship.

16. New Bay Bridge Span Opens

It only took 24 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake, billions of dollars of cost overruns, stalling action by local politicians, and an engineering safety scandal involving sloppy Caltrans inspectors, but the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is unexpectedly beautiful. Its light, airy design is a huge contrast to the old, corroding western span which was recently named by the California State Legislature for former mayor and present-tense powerbroker Willie Brown, Jr.

17. 50 United Nations Rehab

One of architect Arthur Brown's crown jewels in the Civic Center was an early 1930s federal building that had been abandoned by the government in the early 00's for other offices. The General Service Administration decided to rehab the building with Obama's 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and moved their Pacific Rim Region headquarters onto four of the five floors in November.

18. San Francisco Government Runs Over The Public

Two fire trucks ran over a survivor of the Asiana plane crash at San Francisco Airport. A reckless Rec and Park gardener drove over a young mother in Holly Park while she sunbathed on the lawn with her baby daughter and dog. A motorcyclist was run over by a fire truck driven by a drunk fireman at 5th and Howard. Yesterday, there was another incident at the same intersection involving the same bibulous fire station and a Mercedes station wagon. Running over the public in official vehicles is starting to look less like a tragic accident and more like a new SF government employee pastime.

There must be some reason that so many well-paid, underworked San Francisco government workers are such unhappy drunks, and it's possibly because of the rot at the top. Willie Brown, Jr. did more than get his name on a bridge. He appointed hundreds of "special aides" while in office, paying off favors from his decades as the Speaker of the Assembly in Sacramento. Most of those people are still at City Hall, making serious six-figure salaries along with hefty pensions and healthcare for life (click here). Willie still tells them what to do in his role as "consultant," and their everyday, lazy corruption seems to be setting the tone for everyone.


TK said...

Great recap of the year! I think the #1 story for SF in 2013 was the tech industry and its increasingly rapid takeover of the city. It's touched on by a couple of your points (13, 14) and it'll be interesting to see where it goes.

Still kicking myself for missing the terracotta warriors at the Asian.

Civic Center said...

Dear TK: Thanks for the kind words. I'm waiting for the tech industry to crash again like it did in 2001 during the last internet gold rush, but who knows how much havoc will ensue before that happens?