Coit Tower battle: How do we fund the parks?


The emerging battle over whether San Francisco should allow private parties at Coit Tower is really part of a much larger political debate: How do we fund public parks? Is public space something that resources are put into, something that's paid for by tax money and preserved and made available for everyone -- or should part of the role of parks be to generate cash?

The Republicans in Congress, with the help of San Francisco's own Rep. Nancy Pelosi, came down clearly on the side of self-funding around the Presidio, and it's been a disaster.

I have friends who work at Rec-Park, and they tell me that at least the new revenue initiatives have prevented layoffs and kept some programs going. Which is true. But it's the wrong question.

Parks are public commons. They're not supposed to be private space (yeah, they rent out space for weddings in the park, but that's a pretty minor deal). The city ought to be funding the parks. The city ought to be raising taxes enough to do it. Yeah, I know -- you're bored. I'm tired of saying it, too.




Uh, the presidio is a disaster? Maybe you want to clean your lenses gramps.
The presidio is the best looking, cleanest, least homeless/drug/shady person infested park in SF.
The only people who look at it and think its "a disaster" are luddite, change nothing anywhere ever, taxing the rich will fix everything conspiracy theorists.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 3:05 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

The trolls have not only taken over this site, but they've highjacked other people's identities. They have no ethics, no shame, and zero credibility. Another good reason to ignore what they have to say.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

I suppose there can only ever be one "greg" - you cant register for this site, so I really dont see the reason why certain people should get to lay claim to a certain name.

Posted by Vibral on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

Anyone can post with whatever name they choose. So a "troll" just ends up being anyone you disagree with.

It would be easier if everyone signed as "Guest".

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 9:08 am

The idea that you can endlessly tax voters so the government can empire build is over.

You're the last living supporter, Tim.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

You think SF govt is empire building??? What to explain wtf you're talking about?

Either something deserves the public's support or it doesn't. If it does, the public supports it via taxes.

A public private partnership is another way of saying, "let's give some of the public's assets over to a small group of private citizens, in other words, let's privatize it."

This is not to say govt shouldn't be run efficiently or that govt agencies should have more employees than necessary or that govt employees should have ridiculous salaries or ridiculous pensions or ridiculous work rules (either for or against them).

If something needs to be done only on an interim basis, then that's fine to have private co's bid to do that. But anything that's done on a regular basis related to public assets that doesn't require expertise should be done by govt employees.

Privatizing those kinds of jobs would not save money and if it did, it would only be via labor savings and then you get what you pay for.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

Given it's dismal failure to run muni, fix the streets or contain public sector worker benefits, it's clear that the only logical approach is to give the city as little as possible to do, so that there is a fighting chance that it might find it's level of competance.

GG Park, run by the city, is a urine-soaked homeless camp. The Presidio is a model of an urban wilderness. Guess who I think should be given more responsibility?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

non profit realm is a form of privatization-the city regularly contracts out work and will privatize some services that are duplicated by the private sector as time goes by

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

paying rents and managing their businesses is preferrable to the city managing these assets

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

The last time I wrote my reps (at the time, Leno & Migden) about preserving funding for CA's state parks, the response I received was that while they were sympathetic, their priority was funding for social safety net programs. Given that response, I suspect that even if taxes are raised, parks aren't going to be a priority and we'll still be looking at increasing numbers public/private partnerships for the parks systems at the local and state levels.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

The Presidio is lovely if you like a corporate business park. There's an 850,000-square-foot office building, a lot of high-end rental housing and now plans for a big luxury hotel. Not my idea of a national park.


Posted by tim on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

I would like to go with my family to enjoy the beautiful beach, restored wetlands, picnic areas, Ft. Point, and the bike paths but how can I when George Lucas is making movies in one end of the park near the Marina gate?

And then, even if I could overlook that mess, any choice of enjoyment is destroyed by the fact that the classic old soldier quarters are being rented out to wealthy people.

That's why I spend my free time in the Tenderloin nowadays.

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

It's pretty sad that someone can look at almost the almost 1500 acres of the presidio and come away with nothing to say but that its a corporate office park. Chrissy field is a corp office park? baker beach is a corp office park? The national cemetary??
What kind of sad little person says that?

Posted by Kiva on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

He was cursing up a storm because the people at Facebook were becoming rich. He is that type of sad little person.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

Giving up 1% to save the other 99% makes far more sense than trying to riase our taxes.

Admit it - you just hate big business.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 9:10 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 7:22 am

sales tax on services-commercial rental tax-gaming tax-until there are specific tax and rate proposals-nothing will be accomplished.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 7:27 am

Standard Redmond solution: Raise taxes, no accountability on how the money is spent.
He is an angry bitter individual.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 9:02 am

continue the defunding of the education system-R&D-veterans services-public health and environmental work-continue to let the physical infastructure deteriorate- defund social security and raise the cost of medicare all to make the US more like China- the workers paradise? Best jobs for youth drug sales and sex work? all so a few thousand corporate types can hang on to what? 1-3% that would pull this country collectivly out of this mess?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 9:27 am

will fix all your problems.

I've seen on evidence that would be sufficient.

For education, I'd prefer to see a voucher system.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 11:34 am

National VAT + sales tax on services (combined with lower sales taxes on goods) + financial transactions tax. 1-3% on currently untaxed transactions will not kill anyone-but the whining will be tough for a while-how dare you tax my virtual farm animals!!! or my pedicure or my tax attorney-aaahhhhh
I'm an 'all in' type- I don't pick on the 'rich'

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

drive such trades offshore. It really doesn't matter where you trade these days. So your idea would only work if every nation did the same thing at the same time. Not gonna happen.

A national VAT or sales tax might fly if coupled with a corresponding reduction and flattening of income tax. I believe that the GOP are considering this.

None of these would be local, of course.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 1:26 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

The privatization of our parks is just part of the fallout/crumbling roads being another result.

Public spaces are a public treasure and should never be privatized in any way.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

Would you, for the love of God, educate yourself about the real villains behind the move to privatize everything? Read up on the American Legislative Exchange, Pacific Research Institute, Reason Foundation, State Policy Network, Claremont Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, the Project for California’s Future, etc. Here's a good place to start~

Please note that these are the same right-wing groups who have generated all the propaganda against public workers that you have sucked for, unthinkingly.

Here's what Pulitzer-Prize winning tax reporter David Cay Johnston has to say about public employee pensions and total compensation~

"The fact is that all of the money going into these plans belongs to the workers because it is part of the compensation of the...workers. The fact is that the workers negotiate their total compensation, which they then divvy up between cash wages, paid vacations, health insurance and, yes, pensions. Since the...government workers collectively bargained for their compensation, all of the compensation they have bargained for is part of their pay and thus only the workers contribute to the pension plan. This is an indisputable fact."

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

if the city is bankrupt

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

The first department the City goes after when there are budget shortfalls is Parks & Rec- just look at the cuts in the last few years. If the City was not being robbed by both the police and fire departments for example, there would be less need to cut Parks & Rec.

The average wages and benefits of a City employee is 140k in the 2011-12 budget almost double private sector City residents. The idea that City unions driving sky-high costs per employee would not result in cuts in services (privatization to maintain services) is absurd.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

The average base pay for full- and part-time city employees is a little over $63,000, nowhere near the $140k you cite. And half of city employees earn less than $60,000 in total pay.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

It is on page 24 of the City's consolidated 2011-12 budget. Not the $140k off the top of my head but $134k. Why do you think we can't repair potholes or are privatizing our parks?

What is "crap" is all the lies fed to citizens by union drones. Unfortunately many people buy the union's b.s. Maybe someday people will wake up.

Why don't you call the Controller's office and tell him the real number is $63,000- maybe he should learn union math...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2012 @ 7:28 pm

You probably want to compare oranges to oranges first? I mean, there's no meaning to putting up an SFGH doctor's compensation next to a McDonald's employee's. Also, you probably want to factor out the employer's share of payroll taxes from benefits.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 9:03 am

wont work- people are sick of being used as an ATM with higher management and professional employees throwing the lower paid line workers under the bus to protect themselves-

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 10:12 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 11:55 am

The Controller's math is fine. I just think you're missing a bit of context if you're quoting that number.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

...the greed of the City's various unions (police, fire and nurses being the worst offenders) are destroying the City and most City employees do not live in the City, and therefore have little concern. The City is crumbling before our eyes. That's all the context we need.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

tax policy didnt keep up-dont blame the public employees

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

which said explicitly if said benefits cost the City ANYTHING, then police and fire would increase their pension contributions to pay for it??

It cost hundreds of millions of dollars and police and fire did not increase their contributions one dime - so no the "initiative process" was not followed by City employees.

Or do you mean like that 25% raise over four years police, fire and nurses all demanded and which the CIty could not afford??

CIty employees have raped our treasury, and the logical result is crumbling roads, privatization of our parks etc. We are only at the beginning.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

....if the quality of services provided is similar to that of Muni, count me out!!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2012 @ 10:13 am

How did Dennis Herrera's shop manage to conclude that the mandate that the Cops and Fire get their 90% retirement was not a one-year budget issue that was not enforceable over time, but the mandate in Prop H that they pay 10% of their income was a one-year budget issue that was not enforceable?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

There is no reason to pay professionals 20-35% more to work for CCSF than comparable private sector employers in the greater bay area. The health dept is full of these people. it is the largest general fund department. The taxpayers hired 9 architects! last year for DPW when the work could have been contracted out to struggling local architectural firms. I support tax increases that are coupled with salary reform.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2012 @ 10:39 am

- outrageous in the sense that these folks are supposed to be public servants and we see all these tax increase proposals on the middle-class to underwrite the profligacy.

And the double dipping is just crazy- it is outright theft.

At some point, people have to wake up.

Yes, salary reform is more important (double whammy- reduce operating costs and lower pension liability). But it won't happy with our greedy civil servants. Fire will threaten your grandma will die in an inferno if they have to take a pay cut and the police will tell you murderers will roam the streets.

At some point, people have to wake up.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

According to a UC Berkeley study, they are neither overpaid nor overcompensated. They tend to be older (thus, have greater experience) and have higher degrees than workers in the private sector. This explains the difference in pay.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

Ha. That study the unions paid for has been roundly debunked - there is a reason you won't find another one with the same conclusions. No one in their right mind thinks public sector workers are paid the same as everybody else. SF City workers make almost double including the value of the benefits...It probably concludes all the double-dipping public employees are not making any more than anyone else as well...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

No, the study was sponsored UC Berekely Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. (you may be thinking of a different study, not this one.) Where is your evidence that the study was shredded? (you honestly expect people to just take your word for it?) Show us the link.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

As I mentioned above, the campaign against public workers emanates from extreme right-wing think tanks, foundations and corporate interests like the Koch Industry. Your first link is to a piece by Steven Greenhut who works for the Pacific Research Institute, a far-right libertarian think tank. In fact, he was one of the first to come up with the meme that public employees represent a "new elite". Incidentally, this was picked up by Matt Gonzalez' cohort Rod Ciferri who ran with it in a piece at Fog City Journal. (Some 'progressives' these guys turned out to be!)

Your other link is to a "study" by Lanny Ebenstein, a member of the right-wing CATO Institute. He has written the biographies of economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, the fathers of libertarian capitalism (if you enjoy reading right-wing crackpot economic theorists, he's your man). As far as I can tell, he doesn't even refer to the Berkeley study (I skimmed through it).

The site CIV Fi is strangely anonymou...that is, I couldn't find any of the authors' names, but it is most likely supported by the same extremist groups. I'm surprised you didn't mention Steven Malanga, the ultimate right-wing conspiracy theorist. He wrote "Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer." Sorry, I have better things to do with my time than listen to these wingnuts.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

(I assume guest is Lisa since it's the same theme she always posts), you do this every time. You ask for a cite, then when one is provided, you claim it can't be trusted because of the author, or because of the author's political contributions that you find via your internet reasearch, or because you don't like them, or because they are extremist. On the other hand, your cites to David Cay Johnson or union funded studies are gospel to you.

If you have a cogent basis to disagree, fine. You haven't explained how anything in the posts I provided contains inaccurate information. If your reaction to everything that undercuts your position is claim it's biased because it doesn't support your positions, then you are living with blinders on.

Posted by The Commish on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

That study was sponsored by Labor. It was shredded.

And the argument that public employees' pensions were negotiated "deferred compensation" doesn't pass the laugh test. A city worker making $50,000 a year who can retire after 30 years with almost full salary has a pension with a value equivalent to over $1 million. I.e., the amount a private worker would need to save in their 401(k) to get an equivalent yearly payout is over a million bucks. It's nearly impossible for someone in the private sector making $50,000 to set aside that nest egg. They'd be lucky to be able to save more than a couple thousand bucks a year.

So I am to believe that the worker making $50,000 negotiated for $1 million in deferred comp?

Posted by The Commish on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

...let alone their salaries/compensation are not artificially lower, if anything, their salaries are higher. Just more bs.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

No, the study was sponsored UC Berekely Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. (you may be thinking of a different study, not this one.) Where is your evidence that the study was shredded? (you honestly expect people to just take your word for it?) Show us the link.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2012 @ 4:48 pm