November 27, 2002
Arts and Entertainment
Who does own planning?
I nearly gagged when I saw your editorial and Cassi Feldman's article "Who Owns City Planning?" [11/6/02]. Who does own city planning? When planning began their rezoning workshops in the Mission in February of this year, who was invited? It certainly wasn't anyone I knew. In fact, there was scarcely any notice for the first meeting or the second one held a month later.
The centerpiece of the long-range planning effort being undertaken by Amit Ghosh and crew centers around a rezoning of the industrial areas of San Francisco to something called PDR. This is essentially a 1950s model of what an industrial zone should look like, to the exclusion of a lot of other economic uses. The problem is that there is no job growth in this sector. Manufacturing has been leaving San Francisco for at least two decades. The Mission has an industrial vacancy rate of 40 percent.
In the Mission, the planning workshop mentioned in the article focused on declaring major swaths of land in the North East Mission Industrial Zone (NEMIZ) as a PDR zone without recognizing that this neighborhood has become a vibrant, mixed-use area over the last 10 years. Planning's data is faulty, and the conclusions are rigged to suit a narrow scope of interests. Why? Because the only blanket exemption to the PDR category is for nonprofit subsidized housing. The northeast Mission is being set up for a "low income housing district." Forty years ago we called this something else.
So what happened to community-based planning that progressives have been shouting about? I guess some communities are more equal than others. I guess it used to be large developers. Who is it now? MAC? MEDA? Mission Housing? It certainly is not the residents, small-business owners, or property owners of the NEMIZ.
Mission Coalition for Economic Justice and Jobs
The progressive problem
The biggest problem this so called "progressive movement" in San Francisco faces is its inability to reach out and build bridges with the blue-collar working-class neighborhoods of the city ["What Now?," 11/13/02]. For too long this paper and many of the folks involved with this "progressive movement" that just got a major ass whupping in this last election concentrate all their efforts around organizing vegan white radical artist renters who just moved here from upstate New York. Yes, they are important, but what about the families who send their children to Balboa, Mission, and Burton? How about Hunter's Point, Fillmore, Excelsior, Sunnydale, Alemany, Geneva, the Mission, Chinatown, the Tenderloin, and down the line? People from these communities will ultimately catch the worst of the hell from Gavin Noose'em (around their necks).
Chris Daly won again because he had the people and was able to address the real issues affecting the survival of people's lives (housing, health care, employment, police disrespect, pollution, poverty). If we can't do the same in the communities that will most be affected from this white corporate Gap commercial yuppie takeover we are doomed. People like Harvey Milk (R.I.P.) understood this and was able to make the connections.
Save the Darwin fish
Finally there is something the ultraright and ultraleft can agree on: the theory of evolution is bad, bad, bad [Techsploitation, 11/13/02]. The idea that genes influence our actions doesn't square with the right-wing doctrine of mankind's god-given dominion over nature, nor with the leftist view of society as the end-all and be-all of human behavior. Annalee Newitz tars evolutionary theorist Steven Pinker with the brush of determinism and racism, implying that he is some kind of crypto-eugenecist, working hand in hand with John Ashcroft to purge our society of genetic undesirables through institutional racism and uncaring social policies. But wait ... we've heard this sort of attack on the science of evolution before! Trofim Lysenko, a sycophantic charlatan who purported to be a biologist, gained the ear of Josef Stalin by denouncing the theory of evolution as bourgeois, imperialist, and ... oh, yes ... inconsistent with ideals of communism as a means of reshaping human behavior.
As a liberal, I'm supposed to put my faith in the Uplifting Power of Social Progress to alter the collective bad habits of humanity, so I shouldn't be bothered by a few sordid facts of science (genes do influence behavior, evolution happens, we don't have as much free will as we would like to think). So does this mean I have to take the Darwin fish off of my car?
For the record
In Hall Monitor Nov. 13 we misidentified the channel on which District Four supervisorial candidate Andrew Lee had run a TV ad featuring footage of a city-sponsored energy fair. It was regular channel 26, not cable channel 26, which is the San Francisco government channel and does not accept political advertising.
In "Turkey Day" (11/20/02) we reported that the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center serves free Thanksgiving dinners. The Harbor Light Center does not actually serve Thanksgiving dinners but cooks them for other organizations that distribute them.