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Ruminations of a Former Supervisor / Quentin Kopp

City Hall Quentin Kopp

City Hall’s Dilemmas

• • • • • • • • • • April 27, 2024 • • • • • • • • • •

Quentin Kopp

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, while still New York state’s governor in 1932, warned: “Any government, like any family, can for a year spend a little more than it earns. But you and I know that a continuation of that habit means the poorhouse.” California’s deficit must be cured by June 15, 2024 under California’s Constitution (Article IV, Sec. 12 [c]. By the commencement of the government’s fiscal year, and by the time you read this, Governor Gavin Newsom will have disclosed his so-called “May update,” hoping it will include more state income than predicted in January. (That depends primarily on state income taxes filed on April 15th with the pesky Franchise Tax Board.) San Francisco also confronts a deficit which Mayor London Breed and 11 supervisors must solve by July 15, 2024, under Sec. 9.101 of our Charter.

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I daresay City Hall’s dilemma appears more challenging with housing and commercial vacancies (like Park Merced’s 35% vacancy rate as of last month) and businesses still closing downtown, on Market Street, and in most neighborhoods. It’s a dogged effort by Mayor Breed in an election year with the Board of Supervisors’ Aaron Peskin joining Daniel Lurie, Mark Farrell and Supervisor Ahsha Safai vying as candidates for glory and stardom in room 200”

I daresay City Hall’s dilemma appears more challenging with housing and commercial vacancies (like Park Merced’s 35% vacancy rate as of last month) and businesses still closing downtown, on Market Street, and in most neighborhoods. It’s a dogged effort by Mayor Breed in an election year with the Board of Supervisors’ Aaron Peskin joining Daniel Lurie, Mark Farrell and Supervisor Ahsha Safai vying as candidates for glory and stardom in room 200 of City Hall. Both state and local legislators will be hard-pressed to impose more taxes on residents and businesses protected by Proposition B and its subsequent state constitutional voter safeguards.

One aspect of SF and even California’s financial digestive agitation remains untreated. An Epoch Times headline last month reminded readers that the number of immigrants, legal and illegal with jobs in our country increased by about 3,400,000 between March 2020 and March 2024, while the number of US-born job-holders decreased by approximately 78,000 during the same years. Since President Biden’s inauguration, liberal-leaning Brookings Institute concluded after its investigation that about double the number of illegal aliens have entered the USA as legal immigrants. One economist characterized this as the distortion of the employment market by illegal aliens. Our own national Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that jobs for employees born in the USA declined by some 651,000 as of March 2024 compared to March 2023, while alien employees increased by almost 1,300,000. Meanwhile, the politically divided US Congress abrogates cessation of illegal immigrants under a White House which pitifully sends Kamala Harris to halt the disregard of our southern border. And local governments (like ours) practice a policy of embracing lawbreakers as “sanctuary” entities. Americans watched the April spectacle of Republicans refusing to support military aid to democracies Israel and Ukraine until our legal immigration laws are enforced. And President Biden and US Senator Chuckie Schumer admonish Israel and enable illegal immigration lest future registered Democrats be treated as the lawbreakers they are.

A major waste of taxpayer money, elected local government officials and public employees’ time emanated last month from a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District at 455 Golden Gate Avenue. The City and County of San Francisco, with City Attorney David Chiu at the helm, sued the Oakland Port Commission on April 18 for breaching San Francisco International Airport’s trademark by renaming Oakland International Airport “San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.” This catfight typifies a lawyer looking for work. Oakland believes it’ll attract more passengers with such geographical identification. City Hall asserts it’ll cause travelers “confusion” and harm SFO income and “reputation.” I say “balderdash”! We don’t possess a trademark on or own San Francisco Bay. Numerous cities are located on San Francisco Bay. Other San Franciscans and I used Oakland’s airport in the 1960s and 1970s when Southwest Airlines made it home base for flights to and from Los Angeles until establishing a presence at SFO. Passenger “confusion” constitutes a contrived rationale to thwart geographical fact. Oakland is in worse condition downtown than SF. I haven’t been there since BART celebrated its 50th year of operation in 2022, but Chiu’s foolish lawsuit means he needs publicity for re-election. Stop wasting time and taxpayer money!

The sorrowful and disastrous March automobile accident on West Portal caused by a single driver and resulting in four deaths has generated a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (which used to be called “The Muni”) plan, requested by Supervisor Myrna Melgar (who would ban all motor vehicles from West Portal Avenue!). Such a plan flies in the face of MUNI’s own data which demonstrates that the intersection of Ulloa Street and West Portal Avenue has no “high injury incident” history. Yet, MTA recommends prohibiting cars at the West Portal and Ulloa intersection. The West Portal Merchant Association, led by Deirdre Von Rock, its president, calls it “outrageous,” pointing out MTA’s lack of any conclusion regarding the cause of the accident and MTA’s public statement said that the intersection was safe and didn’t contribute to the accident. The Merchants Association and nearby residents have assertedly given MUNI better and less costly steps to prevent accidents, but MUNI has failed to evaluate them. No, we don’t want another Central Subway project.

Speaking of transportation, last fall, BART not so loudly announced that its delayed extension to San Jose is delayed again, and the cost has risen to $12,200,000,000, which is over twice the original cost. The short 6-mile extension goes downtown, then north to Santa Clara and includes four new stations. The completion date is 2036! (In 2014, completion was promised by 2026, with a total cost of $4,700,000,000, later changed to a total cost of $6,900,000,000). Don’t worry, you lucky Santa Clara County taxpayers, no further sales taxation will occur, claims the Valley Transportation Authority’s CEO. Oh, yeah. Wanna bet? VTA is notable for fudging costs and fooling taxpayers, going back to its own trolley system, which has wasted money since its 1990s creation.

Project bureaucrats ignore Santa Clara County’s population decrease since 2020, which isn’t predicted to increase by 10% until 2060. The Bay Area News Group has rightfully recommended that independent experts should review the project’s present expansion and politicians should decide whether a more cost-effective project is in the public’s interest, as Google and Silicon Valley mull high office vacancies and different commute patterns for employees working at home.

Someone informed me last month: “You know you’re really an old-timer when your main mode of transportation is a walker.” Personally, I value US President John F. Kennedy’s conclusion at an April 29, 1969, dinner honoring Western Hemisphere Nobel prize winners: “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

April 27, 2024

Quentin Kopp
Quentin Kopp

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