Tuesday, June 30, 2015

OK, maybe Uber isn't all bad

The Wife and I went to a wedding in Saratoga, CA on Sunday.  Saratoga, if you're not familiar, is a cutesy little town with shops and restaurants and white people in shorts.  The wedding venue was one of those fancy gardens-type places that mostly exist just to be a place to have weddings.  I was under the initial impression that we could walk there from our hotel, since it appeared to be about a half-mile away on Google maps.  What Google maps did not reveal was that the road there was a tiny 2-lane thing with no sidewalks and cars whizzing by, and the gardens were at the top of a large hill with no sidewalks leading up to it, so ergo, no walking.

Obviously the open bar is the killer app of weddings and there was no way either of us were driving, so I called the local cab company and told the guy who answered we needed a cab at the hotel.  He asked me where we were going and when I said "Mystical Wedding Gardens," he suddenly said "Sorry we don't have any drivers in the area," which is of course total bullshit because he didn't say that until I told him we were only going about a half a mile and he clearly wasn't interested in a fare that low.  Ok, fuck you then.

So I turned to Uber.  Despite its relative proximity to Uber headquarters in SF, it appears that there is but one UberX driver serving the Saratoga area.  His name is Ali and he was just as nice as you can be.  Ali left his house and came and picked us up and took us to the wedding for $10.  $10 is a lot to go a half a mile but cheaper than lifelong paralysis after being hit by a car while walking on a 2-lane road or a DUI.

When the wedding was over around 10 pm, Ali left his house and came and picked us up and drove us back to our hotel, this time for only $7.  Bargain!  Ali seemed positively delighted to ferry two semi-drunk people around the corner to their hotel at 10 o'clock at night.  Thanks, Ali.

The moral of this mostly boring story is that I like to hate on Uber just as much as the next guy, but once again, the refusal of cab companies to provide the service for which they FUCKING EXIST proves that we need something like Uber or Lyft.  Now just start treating your employees like employees and not this contractor bullshit and we'll all be cool.

The end.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The solution this city needs: GTFO

You know the problems.  There's nowhere to live and the rents are ridiculous!  BART is too fucking crowded!  Even if you say fuck BART, I'm driving, that's a goddam nightmare too!

Here are some possible solutions: (1) build a fuck ton more housing, especially in San Francisco; (2) Build a second BART tube from, I don't know, Dogpatch to Alameda to Fruitvale; (3) Build underground tunnels for cars all over everywhere.

That all sounds very expensive!  The second BART tube alone, which everyone basically already agrees has to be built, is gonna cost 12 billion dollars.  12 billion dollars!  That's probably more than Larry Ellison spends on yachts every year.

ALLOW ME TO SUGGEST AN ALTERNATIVE.  What's the common link between every single one of these problems?  TOO MANY PEOPLE.  Look at this:

Graph courtesy of FRED, some kind of economic thing blah blah blah Federal Rsserve Bank blah blah blah
Back in 1990, there were 723,496 people in San Francisco, at least until I moved here on October 15, then there were 723,497.  A lot of people, but in 2014 it's 852,469, including the doofus I saw in the Mission yesterday wearing a Facebook t-shirt, like who even does that? Why the fuck would anyone wear a t-shirt that says "Facebook" on it?

BUT I DIGRESS.  That means in the past 24 years we've added about 130,000 new people and zero new BART tubes and like 3 new apartments. No wonder there's a 2-hour wait for fucking brunch.

What we really need is plain: FEWER PEOPLE.

So here's the plan: We will offer 100,000 people a check for $20,000 if they move out of the Bay Area.  That's it, no strings.  You pack up your shit and hit the road, you get twenty thousand American dollars.  Holy shit!  You're already almost halfway there to owning this $45,000 charmer on Cabernet Parkway in Reno.  With 20 grand, you could probably buy a whole town in North Dakota or whatever.

It will be called the General Transitional Funding Office, or GTFO.

TOTAL COST: 2 billion dollars.  That's it!  Less than 20% of what the new BART tube alone will cost.

We can even break it up across the Bay Area a little.  Let's clear out, say, 60,000 people from SF, because that's clearly where it's most crowded, and then maybe 20,000 from Alameda County and 10 each from San Mateo and Santa Clara.  Marin and Contra Costa, you're on your own.  There's plenty of room out there.

Imagine SF with 60,000 fewer people!  It'll be just like it was in 2006.  We weren't really bitching about rents and that kind of shit in 2006!  It was an earthly paradise.  Look at these apartment ads from August 2006:

A delightful one-bedroom on Russian Hill for $1500!  A large 2 bedroom flat in Laurel Heights for $2750!  Yeah, it's still expensive but considering that ZERO BEDROOM apartments are now going for $2700, it seems like a pretty good deal.

Of course there will be enforcement issues.  What if someone who's taken advantage of GTFO tries to sneak back in?  I don't know, we'll figure it out.  Maybe a master list of everyone who got the money and check anyone who tries to rent an apartment or get a mortgage for a place in SF against the list.  We can work out the details later.  What if a homeless person takes the money and comes right back?  Who gives a fuck, we already spend something like $30,000 per year per homeless, so it's a bargain.

Just imagine San Francisco with 60,000 fewer people. Room to stretch out and breathe!  One less jackass looking at their phone and blocking the door on Muni!  It's only 2 billion dollars. Let's make it happen.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Enjoy these attractions along the Warriors parade route!

Near the beginning of the parade, at 11th and Jefferson, stop by the Hope Your Forget This Old Racist Logo Pavilion, featuring the Philadelphia Warriors Logo that's so bad the Redskins would be embarrassed to use it.

At 11th and Broadway, take a rest at Sleepy Floyd's Mattress Mountain, or take a spin on the Todd Fuller Mediocrity Coaster!

Were you there when the 1975 team won it all?  Get your picture taken in front of the That's Total Bullshit You Were Not There Championship Banner!

New fans are welcome at the Bandwagon Stands, where you'll be issued a crisp new "The City" shirt and get a chance to win prizes by answering questions like  "Who is P. J. Carlesimo?" or "How many quarters are there in a game?"

You'll definitely want to tour the Hall of Forgotten Coaches, and maybe pick up an Eric Musselman baby bib or a Dave Cowens Who Is Dave Cowens sticker.

Getting a little choked up?  That's ok, the Latrell Sprewell Obvious Joke Station can handle that.

PLEASE NOTE: At the conclusion of the parade, everything is being packed up and moved to San Francisco.Longtime East Bay fans will have first priority to buy tickets at the new arena's Overcrowded BART Car SRO Plaza.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meet the Assholes Who Forced Me to Un-Semi-Retire from Blogging

I was having lunch with someone the other day who mentioned that I don't seem to blog much anymore, which is true.  I told him that maybe I just don't get as worked up about stuff as I used to.  I mean, even Debra J. Saunders' incoherent sub-preschool-level columns barely raise my ire any more.  I thought maybe I'm just not that angry anymore.

Thankfully, these gigantic assholes arrived to shake me from my slumber.

Rich Californians balk at limits: ‘We’re not all equal when it comes to water’

RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. — Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.
People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”

Human-shaped garbage barge Steve Yuhas isn't even the worst of this crew who think that they're above the law because they have money.  I mean, it's hard to fault them for thinking that, since the whole fucking country seems bent on constantly reinforcing that idea.  Still, it's sort of breathtaking to hear them spout their entitlement-speak out loud and to a major newspaper.  At least the filthy rich used to have the common courtesy not to openly rub our faces in the yawning disparity between how they live and how we scrabble around the floor waiting for them to accidentally drop a crumb.

Let together lament the travails of Gay Butler:

“I think we’re being overly penalized, and we’re certainly being overly scrutinized by the world,” said Gay Butler, an interior designer out for a trail ride on her show horse, Bear. She said her water bill averages about $800 a month.
“It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,” Butler said. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”

Well, Gay, actually, yes.  It will come as no surprise to anyone that Steve Yuhas "hosts a conservative talk-radio show," because he is a shining example of the I-got-mine-so-fuck-you mentality typical amongst his ilk.  If there was unlimited water, Yuhas and Gay Butler and Bear could all hot tub together and hose each other down 24/7 for all I care but we don't.  There is a fixed amount of water available and these scabrous jackoffs think their lush green lawns are more important than your drinking water or your kale or whatever else you want to eat.  God I am sick of kale.  That's not the point.  The point is these people are awful.

One other factoid of note:
In a place where the median income is $189,000, where PGA legend Phil Mickelson once requested a separate water meter for his chipping greens, where financier Ralph Whitworth last month paid the Rolling Stones $2 million to play at a local bar, the fine, at $100, was less than intimidating.
Hold the fucking phone.  The Rolling Stones will play a private gig for only $2 million?  Mick Jagger is worth $300 million. What is he doing playing "Brown Sugar" for a bunch of rich dicks in Rancho Santa Fe?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I'll trade you a moratorium for a 4-story building here

Yesterday the Board of Supes voted on the #MissionMoratorium, Supervisor David Campos's idea to halt all market-rate residential construction in the Mission so rents will go down or something.  I'm actually not clear on what effect he thinks this moratorium would have, and I'm not sure he is either.  There was some vague talk about giving the City a chance to buy some undeveloped parcels for affordable housing but no one had that idea when land was cheap and no one had put forth any hard numbers or a plan to actually make that happen anyway, as far as I know.  The Board rejected it, but I doubt that's the end of it.

It's a loaded topic, and no one can dispute that rents have exploded in the Mission and a lot of longtime residents have been forced out and replaced with boring white people.  The question is what to do about it.  I wasn't convinced that stopping all construction would slow in any way the eviction of current residents.  In fact, my belief is that it would probably increase it, since people with money still want to live in the Mission and if there's no  new construction then existing landlords will just Ellis Act out their current tenants and sell off the resulting TICs to Facebillionaires.

ANYWAY I live in the Richmond district and my supposed supervisor, Eric Mar, somehow found the time to tear himself away from his tireless efforts to control what beverages people drink and weigh in on this issue.

Oh my. As @thetens pointed out after I objected to this kind of rhetoric, "Genocide isn't the only thing that ethnic cleansing means though," which is true, I suppose, but I would guess that when people hear "ethnic cleansing," they usually think of ethnic cleansing like Bosnia or Rwanda and not people of various races being peaceably (albeit unwillingly) evicted from their homes.  Don't get me wrong; it's terrible, but I don't think incendiary statements like this add to meaningful dialogue on this issue.

I sorta wish Eric Mar would turn his supervisorial gaze to his own district, where we could use some help.  Here's the corner of 6th Ave and Balboa, in the heart of the Inner Richmond, not far from where I live:

Empty one-story restaurant, one-story storefront, empty one-story storefront, empty one-story coffee shop.  Talk about a prime development opportunity!  No tenants to evict, and a shitload of space!  You could put up a 4 or 5-story building here, ground floor retail, looks like you could get easily 20 apartments in here.  LOOK OVER HERE AT YOUR DISTRICT SUPERVISOR MAR!!!  HEY!!! OVER HERE!!!!

Believe it or not, the Mission is not the only place in the city where people could live.  If you put up 20 apartments here, do you think they'd sit vacant?  Do you think those people might patronize a coffee shop on the ground floor?  How about saying "Sure, cool, I'll vote for a moratorium in the Mission if we all agree to speed through development in my district"?  What if every other supervisor did that?

I'm kidding, of course.