Voters will see sales tax hike, funding for homeless and Muni on November ballot

by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

There’s little debate over whether San Francisco should invest more in Muni and homelessness, but a whole lot when it comes to how.

Voters this November are being asked to approve a sales tax hike in Proposition K, and a spending mandate for that revenue with Proposition J, which sets aside annually $100 million for transportation and $50 million for homeless services…

But opposition to the sales tax hike comes not only from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, but some progressive politicians as well. Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Norman Yee and Jane Kim voted against placing the sales tax on the ballot.

Peskin even submitted a paid ballot argument against the sales tax hike, arguing it is “balancing our budget on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable in our city” and that within The City’s existing $9.6 billion budget, “City Hall should address critical issues.”

In 2017, San Francisco’s sales tax would decrease from the current rate of 8.75 percent to 8.5 percent, but if Prop. K passes it would increase by .75 percent, to a total of 9.25 percent…

“I generally have not been supportive of flat regressive taxes,” Kim told the San Francisco Examiner during an editorial board meeting, noting she also does not support a proposed tax on sugary beverages that’s on the ballot as well. “Flat taxes disproportionately impact low income households.”

In opposing the measure, the Chamber argued the sales tax “places overwhelming economic strain on local businesses, especially small businesses, causing costs to rise, businesses to leave or close, and lost jobs.”

There are no active fundraising campaigns against Props. J and K…(more)

There is an growing opposition movement to Proposition K. Contact us  if you want to help fight it. With five major tax bills on the ballot and even more set-asides, almost half of the city ballot initiatives are about taxes and there is a growing opposition movement to increasing taxes.

Both progressives and business people agree that increasing sales tax is bad business. Some of our endorsers for No on K are: Supervisor Aaron Peskin, SF Berniecrats, San Francisco Tomorrow, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, Chinese American Democratic Club, District 3 Democratic Club, SaveMuni, Bay Area Transportation Working Group, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Council of District Merchants, San Francisco Taxpayers Association, San Francisco Libertarian Party, San Francisco Republican Party


1. Politics + Deception = Secrecy
2. The Art of Politics
3. Political Shenanigans 10.2

POLITICS + DECEPTION = SECRECY:  With a big election soon, secrecy is expedient when November ballot measures covet oodles of money for transportation and government—even as delays and cost overruns negate new revenues. City managers voraciously hit the campaign trail because salaries depend on more revenue—despite the City’s record $9.6 billion annual budget. The SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) has record-high $1.2 billion operating budgets and $1.1 billion capital budgets—fueled by more bond measures, taxes, fares, fees and fines. The Homeless Department has a record-high $241 million annual budget, not counting support dollars from other agencies. Such numbers exceed the entire budgets of many cites, states and small countries. Where’s the beef?

The Central Subway is not “on-time, on-budget” anymore. Nor has it been for over a year: SFMTA reports show an additional one month of delay per report. At that rate, the Central Subway will be delayed for over a year—with 3 more years of construction remaining. Contractors will ask for additional money. Before opening, mandated inspections, testing and commissioning will add more financial risks. Added costs will gulp new tax revenues.

Reasons for secrecy: Voters are angry; Merchants are suffering.  Macy’s and downtown businesses have had a double whammy – changing retail patterns and chaotic construction. Chinatown merchants have reported 50%+ declines in business. While Union Square merchants got help, Chinatown businesses got nothing. Remember in 2008, merchants were told that there would be no impacts because construction was underground.

Page 6: Key Milestones
Revenue Service: August 2019 [8 months behind schedule]
(FTA Project Management Oversight Contractor Report)

Page ES-iii, Table 1:
Original Revenue Service Date: 12/26/18 [original opening date]
Current Revenue Service Date: 7/25/19 [7 months behind schedule]

Page 8: Schedule Highlights
The MPS shows a forecast Revenue Service Date of July 2019
(FTA Project Management Oversight Contractor Report)

Page ES-I, Project Status: As a result of the forecast delay in the completion of station construction, the current program master schedule indicates that the Revenue Service Date (RSD) will be achieved on June 14, 2019, approaching six months later than the date required in the FFGA and nine days later than forecast in the April 2016 schedule update.

MARCH 2016: PMOC REPORT (FTA Project Management Oversight Contractor Report)

Page ES-ii:
As a result of the forecast delay in the completion of station construction, the current program master schedule indicates that the Revenue Service Date (RSD) will be achieved on May 24, 2019, five months laterthan the date required in the FFGA [December 2018].

Hidden Agendas: Transportation as a land-use and development tool.
Developers covet the northern extension of the Central Subway into North Beach and the Waterfront. Land values would rise. Upzoning would follow. Voilà, Prop J & K! These cynical ballot measures add $10 million/ year ($250 million in 25 years) for planning and design of boondoggles like the Central Subway—without any neighborhood discussion or environmental reviews. Think pre-determination of outcome—at the expense of the rest of the Muni system, citywide bus rapid networks, Caltrain to Downtown, free bus loops and more.

It’s all about land values, real estate and development—tied to big salaries and politics. Getting voters to pay for planning and implementation is the cherry atop the development cake.

Vote No on J & K

A Better Way! Spend Muni money evenly across the city—to create an integrated system. Like the synapses of the brain, multiple pathways better serve the multi-tasking patterns of transit riders. Unlike Zurich’s 60% transit modal share, San Francisco has a 25% transit modal share. The major difference is that in 1973, Zurich’s voters rejected an expensive subway project and voted instead to implement a less costly transit-priority program—-leading to one of the world’s highest per capita ridership rates because its transit is fast, frequent, reliable and inexpensive. Meanwhile, San Francisco has poured money into the Central Subway, taking money away from citywide Muni and regional DTX (Downtown Caltrain Extension).

Vote Yes on L

THE ART OF POLITICS: Best Campaign Lessons
270 TO WIN: 2016 Presidential Electoral Map (Interactive Map) It will take 270 electoral votes to win the 2016 presidential election. Click states on this interactive map to create your own 2016 election forecast. Create a specific match-up by clicking the party and/or names near the electoral vote counter.

Below are some superlative examples of the art of politics—great talks, design and enduring moments. Compared to loud stump speeches, these conversational talks display an elegance born from the interweaving of ideals and compelling stories—built on confidence of experience and character.

INDEPENDENT: Robert De Niro asked to deliver plea for people to vote, delivers withering take-down of Donald Trump instead

YOUTUBE: Khizr Khan – Fallen Soldier’s Parents Speak At Democratic Convention 2016
Wall Street Journal: Among Democratic Convention Standouts:
The Quiet Dignity of Khizr Khan

But Americans watching at home might long remember another moment in this convention’s packed schedule. Amid the party officials and celebrities and others came Khizr Khan, the father of Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan. Mr. Khan said that he and his wife, “as patriotic American Muslims, with undivided loyalty to our country,” were honored to be there. Their 27-year-old son was killed in Iraq in 2004.

ABC-TV VIDEO: U.S. Presidents and “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” at DNC

ABC-TV VIDEO: Bill Clinton Film and Speech at DNC

VOX VIDEO: Michelle Obama’s Speech at DNC  RADIO.COM: Watch Katy Perry sing “Rise” and “Roar” at DNC

The 31-year-old singer performed her current single “Rise” and her smash hit song “Roar” for the crowd minutes before Hillary Clinton appeared on stage to accept the Democratic nomination for president.

Best-Balloon Drop: 100,000 red/ white/ blue balloons

WIRED: How DNC pulled off that balloon drop

Best SF TV Ads:

Jane Kim: Fight the Evictions

Jane Kim as a Fighter.

YOU TUBE: Candace Roberts — Not My City Anymore (Original Musical)

VOX: The rise of American Authoritarianism
A niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what’s driving Donald Trump’s ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016.

EXAMINER: Moms to take charge at City Hall

YOU TUBE: SF Voters Are Smart – YES on Props D, H, L & M

SFWEEKLY: 5 Corrupt Ways to Influence San Francisco Politics

48 HILLS: Following the big tech and real estate money in D11 and D9
It’s getting more and more complicated to Follow the Money in San Francisco, particularly when so many campaigns are making so many misleading statements about their politics and their support.

EXAMINER: Google bus issue reappears as ‘dark money’ from tech floods into supervisor races
Third-party spending, also known as independent expenditure, comes from outside groups that cannot coordinate with a candidate’s own campaign. While contributions to individual candidates are capped at $500 per donor, there are no limits on how much a donor can contribute to third-party groups.

1. In progressive San Francisco, candidates, officials, individuals and political groups who talk social liberalism but are heavily financed by tech billionaires, shared-economy lobbyists, right-wing benefactors, outside politicos, developers, realtors and secretive political committees.
2. Deceptively called moderates, SFconservatives are predisposed in a manner conductive to large development, big infrastructure boondoggles, corporate profits, gentrification and displacement of low and middle-income residents.
3. Obligated to wealthy and powerful special interests, SFconservatives appear as moderate in order to deal public funds, contracts, services, favors and legislation—through regressive public policy.

Vote No on P & U

Vote Yes on T


Two-thirds of American college students graduate with debilitating debts, amounting to $1.2 trillion. Pushed by President Obama, Senator Bernie Sanders and the 2016 Democratic Party Platform, free community colleges would reduce costs of college education and increase enrollment. Tennessee. Minnesota, Oregon and several cities have adopted free community colleges. In seven countries, overall college education is free but with high taxation and selective testing that cuts eligible students. Free community colleges are more economical, shifting funding and resources to local communities. Not a dream anymore, Proposition W on SF’s November ballot will fund free City College.

Vote Yes on W

INSIDE HIGHER ED: Pushing for Free [Community

President Obama gave his endorsement to the idea in January 2015 and announced America’s College Promise, a federal matching grant program to spur the development of free community college across the country.

The Democratic platform approved Monday in Philadelphia includes a call for free community college, an exciting if symbolic victory for advocates eager to push for more progress on the issue.

EXAMINER: Proposal would make community college free for SF residents

Kim announced her plan to eliminate college tuition for City College of San Francisco students on the steps of City Hall Tuesday as teachers, students and education leaders rallied alongside in support.

Kim’s plan, titled the Free City Proposal, would not only tackle the rising tuition costs at CCSF, but also chip away at costs associated with being a student, like paying for books, transportation and childcare. Low-income CCSF students who already receive federal or state assistance for tuition would be granted up to $1,000 per year in financial support, if the proposal is passed.


It’s not too late to change past endorsements -based on misrepresentations!

Opposition to Prop J & K is growing as people read the legislation and independent analysis, including Supervisor Aaron Peskin, SF Berniecrats, San Francisco Tomorrow, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, Chinese American Democratic Club, District 3 Democratic Club, SaveMuni, Bay Area Transportation Working Group, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Council of District Merchants, San Francisco Taxpayers Association, San Francisco Libertarian Party, San Francisco Republican Party….

· Local businesses and minority businesses will be hurt.

City Economist’s economic impact report:Higher prices will lead consumers to reduce their consumption of local goods and services subject to the higher taxes, which will reduce sales at local merchants selling these items. Depending on how price-sensitive consumers are, sales at merchants selling non-taxable goods and services may decline as well.”

· Low-income families and residents will be hurt.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin: “Further, the same sponsors have opted to forgo calls for progressive revenue and made homeless services contingent on the passage of a regressive sales tax (Proposition K). On top of that, Prop K’s sales tax has been deliberately placed separately on the ballot from Proposition J, which actually creates the set-aside for homelessness and transportation, in order to get out of the higher vote threshold mandated by the voters for special taxes. It’s disingenuous and if the City really wanted to take on homelessness, we’d be prioritizing cost-effective and proven solutions in our existing $9.6 billion budget and prioritizing progressive revenue measures to fund them – instead of giving tax breaks to the wealthiest sectors of the City.”

· No net benefit as businesses lose more sales than is gained in taxes.

City Economist’s economic impact report:The tax increase is expected to generate nearly as much tax revenue as it costs in consumption spending [lost retail sales] —approximately $154 million by 2017-18.”


Propositions J & K circumvent state law and a 2/3rd majority vote by separating funding and dedicated uses into two measures. Three other measures on the November ballot require 2/3rd majority vote for passage—-all of smaller dollar obligations.

· Prop B, City College Parcel Tax: $44 million ($4 million/ year for 11 years)

· Prop C, Reallocate Existing Seismic Loan Funds: $260 million

· Prop S, Reallocate Existing Hotel Tax Funds: $50 million/ year

· Prop J & K: $3.8 billion ($154 million/ year for 25 years of new sales taxes)

NO NET GAIN: Prop J & K are regressive

Regressive sales tax hurts local businesses as well as low-income families.

Per the City Economist’s economic impact report, local businesses lose more sales than is gained by the city in new taxes. An unknown amount is lost in consumptive spending for non-taxable goods and services. Since 70% of sales taxes are paid by locals, low-income residents and families will be hurt the most—a socially-inequitable tax.

EXAMINER: Proposed SF sales tax hike would reduce consumer spending by $154M

A proposed sales tax hike that could go before San Francisco voters in November would reduce the amount of spending in local businesses, but simultaneously raise an equal amount of tax revenue.

That’s according to an economic impact report on the ballot measure from Ted Egan, The City’s economist. The .75 percent sales tax hike would result in a 9.25 percent sales tax rate come April 2017.

November 8, 2016 Election NO BAD TAXES!
SaveMuni Independent Analysis


Budget Set-Aside that takes funds from other needs.
Only 12.6% goes to improved Muni service—not a valid transportation measure.
Cynical legislation to circumvent 2/3rd majority vote.

Regressive Sales Tax hurts local businesses as well as low-income families.
Cuts sales at local businesses in amounts that exceed new revenue.
Deceptive legislation to circumvent 2/3rd majority vote.
Every vote counts!
Howard Wong, AIA


Hyperloop Raises $50 Million—In 13 Years High Speed Rail Raise $0 From Private Sources

By Stephen Frank : calpolitics – excerpt

The High Speed Rail concept has been trying to raise private funds for more than 13 years—yet not a dime of private money has been invested.  In fact, the Bond measure that gave us this boondoggle said they had to raise equal amounts from the private sector before beginning the process—like everything else, they lied… (more)

Hyperloop One raises $50 million despite lawsuit, and adds finance adviser

by : venturebeat – excerpt

Hyperloop One is working on a transportation technology that can make trains go as fast as 760 miles per hour. And today, the company said it has raised $50 million from the port of Dubai and others to explore building a high-speed transportation system to move cargo.

The deal comes on a previous announcement to explore building a high-capacity passenger transport system in Moscow and a $80 million funding in May. The company was able to close that deal and add a new chief financial adviser in spite of bad publicity from four former high-ranking employees who accused Hyperloop One’s of corporate misgovernance in a lawsuit(more)

Commuter Bus Stuck on Castro causes accident and 24th stops traffic for hours

Hi Alex:


Notified by an alert neighborhood network member just before 6PM on Thursday, September 15, 2016  of the accident at 24th and Castro.  I do not know the accident time but most likely about 5:30PMish.

SFO 475, placard 06-5092, a double deck bus,  was in the middle of the intersection with the vehicle to the right.  The large Commuter Bus was negotiating a right turn from westbound 24th to uphill northbound Castro.

The following northbound  Muni buses were delayed before 24th Street:
coach 5621 run 133
coach 5614 run 134
coach 5516 run 65

The following Commuter Buses were lined up westbound 24th Street:
Corinthian 247     12-0053
Loop 36               07-5106
WeDriveU 2357   05-5013
WeDriveU  10      05-5017
WeDriveU 262     05-5015
Storer  905            10-5007

WeDriveU 2613, 05-5055 was parked on northbound Castro immediately south of  24th Street in the middle of the street.  I can only assume this bus attempted to circumvent the 24th Street backup and operated on residential streets to get into this position.

When I arrived just after 6PM there was no traffic control at the intersection.  Traffic eastbound 24th was flowing but autos stuck between the Corporate Buses were attempting to drive around them.   Only observed  one Police Sargent about 6:15PM when the flat bed tow truck arrived.  He then departed.

The wide turning buses at this intersection cause “intersection stalemate”.  Bus turning in either direction cause autos to pull to the right, back up, or freeze in place unexpectedly facing an oncoming  bus in their lane.  The new crosswalks installed last year are severely  damaged by the buses turning up the steep Castro Street Hill.

With over 30 buses an hour, the traffic flow is negatively impacted on both streets.

Muni line  24 was delayed by three buses or  at least half an hour.  About 6:45PM I called 311 and the outbound (return southbound)  line 24 bus was five minutes 25 minutes and 29 minutes.  So I opted for a 48 bus for a short grocery shopping trip.

I assume this incident has been documented, as I did not observe the police making a report.   This may be considered a minor incident, but the vehicle was towed and created considerable disruption to Muni, with the neighborhood sharing in the daily pain of the very large Commuter Buses.

Two photos show the subject bus and the other photo shows the 24th Street backup.

Thank you,

Tech buses proliferating throughout Bay Area

By Erin Baldassari : eastbaytimes – excerpt – (includes graph)

If operated by a single agency, the private tech shuttles would be the seventh-largest transportation provider in the Bay Area. Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 

On any given day, more than 800 “tech buses” negotiate narrow city streets and congested freeways to cart employees to offices throughout the Bay Area, according to a first-of-its-kind survey released Wednesday by a regional transportation planning agency.

There are so many of the large, privately owned shuttles operating in the Bay Area that if they all fell under a single agency, they would be the seventh-largest transportation provider in the region in terms of ridership, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which released the study in conjunction with the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored advocacy organization. All told, the 35 shuttle services included in the survey collectively carried some 34,000 passengers a day, or more than 9.6 million people in 2014, the last year for which data was available.

It’s the first study to look comprehensively at the growing practice which ignited protests in San Francisco and in the East Bay over the past few years. Demonstrators have argued the buses are a symbol of gentrification and the employees who ride them to high-paid jobs in the South Bay are responsible for hastening the widening inequities in housing and pay in cities such as San Francisco and Oakland.

But there’s never been any good data on just how many buses are operating in the area because there’s no single government agency tasked with collecting that data, said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the transportation commission…

While organizations like the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project have detailed the increase in evictions in areas adjacent to tech bus stops in San Francisco, Adrian Covert, the Bay Area Council’s policy director, said the rise in private shuttles is a response to the housing shortage, not its cause. At the heart of the issue, Covert said, is the both the region’s booming economic success and its failure to build enough housing in areas where new jobs are being added.

“The private sector is responding by providing shuttles that go further distances to pick up employees,” Covert said. “The bad news is that we have to do this in the first place … because the housing stock is not keeping pace with demand.”… (more)

$1 million in tech and real estate money pours into June SF election

By Tim Redmond : 48 HILLS – excerpt

The tide of tech and real-estate money flowing into the June 7th San Francisco election is now at more than $1 million, a stunning sum that’s paying in part for an all-out effort to keep the supporters of Airbnb and the developers in control of the city.

This is more than a record; it’s an ocean of big money the likes of which I have never seen in this kind of election.

Remember, the DCCC is not just a low-profile group that runs the local party. It has the ability to endorse candidates for local office — and in November, when thousands of voters who don’t pay that much attention to local politics but want to defeat Trump, go to the polls, that endorsement will be a major factor.

That’s why the big money is really here: These moguls want to control the city government, now and in the future…

POLITICAL SHENANIGANS: Case Study of Political Sleight-of-Hand
Here’s how politics can be cynical and deceptive—with legislative gobbledygook and legalistic language that diverts funds from their supposed purpose of fixing Muni transit.

Department of Elections Ballot: Endorse No on Prop J & K.
And it’s not too late to reconsider any previous endorsement of Prop J & K.


ASIAN VOTING TRENDS: A Microcosm of Power

With a growing 5% of the U.S. population, Asian-American voters are a political force—due to strategic demographic distribution. In close elections, Asian-American voters are a reliable Democratic swing vote. When the Wisconsin primary debate fell on the week of the Chinese and Lunar New Year, it wasn’t lost on Asian voters that Hillary Clinton wore an Asian-styled yellow jacket.

A few weeks later, she was the only candidate to attend the annual dinner of the Asian-American Institute for Congressional Studies, at which President Obama has also spoken. In urban cores like San Francisco, elected Asian officials reflect a significant Asian constituency, especially with district elections. Yet, over time, these unique Asian-American identities and their historical landmarks may disappear—as have too many already. Hopefully, more political influence will translate into preservation of Asian-American culture—to cultivate the American melting pot. An urgent action is to stop the homogenization and gentrification of Chinatowns.

WASHINGTON POST: Why Asian Americans don’t vote Republican

When Joseph Choe, an Asian American college student, stood up to ask a question about South Korea, Donald Trump cut him off and wondered aloud: “Are you from South Korea?”

Choe responded, “I’m not. I was born in Texas, raised in Colorado.” His answer prompted laughter from the audience, and nothing more than a shrug from the GOP presidential candidate.

Media outlets like NPR and the Huffington Post mocked this interaction as a “Where are you from?” moment.

A fellow conference attendee who walked by Choe subsequently joked, “You’re gonna have to show him your birth certificate, man!”

Although Trump probably did not intend to offend, this interaction likely reminded Choe and other Asian American voters that being Asian often translates to being perceived by fellow Americans as a foreigner.

However innocuous Trump’s question may seem, this is exactly the sort of exchange that could, in part, be pushing Asian Americans – the highest-income, most-educated, and fastest-growing segment of the United States – toward the Democratic Party by landslide margins.

A landslide for Obama

In the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama won 73 percent of the Asian American vote. That exceeded his support among traditional Democratic Party constituencies like Hispanics (71 percent) and women (55 percent).

Asian Americans are regularly made to feel like foreigners in their own country through “innocent” racial microaggressions. Microaggressions are “everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent.”

THE ECONOMIC TIMES: Hillary Clinton promises better representation for Asian-Americans

Obama & Clinton speak at APAICS

HUFFINGTON POST: Asian-American Vote:
CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Asian American and Pacific Islander Voters

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, or AAPIs, are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, increasing at four times the rate of the overall U.S. population. While this population is projected to double in size from 17 million people in 2014 to more than 40 million people by 2060, its voting power has already nearly doubled in the past decade.

Muni’s $2.4 Million Mission Transformation Saves 2 Minutes, Costs Shopkeepers More

SFMTA spends 2.4 million for 2 minutes.

Meter Madness

Phil Matier :cbslocal – excerpt – (video)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco’s plan for Muni in the Mission District promised to speed up commutes, but the time saved has come at a startling cost: a million dollars a minute…

For the past five months crews have been busy remaking 23 blocks of Mission Street to make it more bus friendly, putting transit only lanes, taking out parking and rerouting traffic.

The price tag on the project? $2.4 million.

Muni says the transformation will save commuters about two minutes.

Local business owners say the money, along with the time saved, is just not worth it.

“We support better service for Muni riders, but this is basically hurting the businesses and the economic vitality of this community,” says Roberto Hernandez of the Mission Merchants Association.

The trouble is faster buses also means fewer cars coming in to shop.


View original post 187 more words

Meet the SF man responsible for more than a quarter of all tech bus complaints

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez :  SFExaminer – excerpt

Edward Mason is on the hunt, and his target is the elusive tech bus.

But Mason does not seek out his prey merely once. Instead, he catches the gleaming metal vehicles in the act of violating city rules on the “Commuter Shuttle Program,” repeatedly…

Tech workers defend the shuttles, and often say Caltrain is too full to use in a Silicon Valley commute. Tech workers frequently say in meetings that the shuttles take many cars off the road…

Yet none of these neighbors are as vigilant as Mason, records show…

In fact, Mason is personally responsible for more than a quarter — 28 percent — of all enforcement against scofflaw commuter shuttles, according to the SFMTA.

A pilot program to monitor and regulate shuttle use began in August 2014, and that’s when Mason began his hunt. He’s been enormously effective…

Overall, Mason has provided information on commuter shuttles 282 times, according to the SFMTA…(more)

Stuck in the zone

By John McDowell : smdailyjournal – excerpt

The Governor want to take land use out of local control and convince residents to pay extra taxes for less services. How dumb are we?

Imagine, if you will, a democracy where your voice doesn’t count, where regional unelected bureaucrats make decisions for you, and where your city is shaped by Sacramento and not your city council. You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not of responsible citizens but of faceless bureaucratic control. A journey into a land restricted on all sides. Your next stop, the Plan Bay Area zone.

That’s right; when it comes to the shape of your city, development, roads, density, land use and other decisions about the quality of your life, your voice no longer counts. Instead, an unelected regional bureaucracy is in charge. It’s an eye-glazing, alphabet soup of government agencies designed with one thing in mind — take control over cities and towns.

Their mandates aren’t secret; in fact, they are laid out in glossy publications available from the Plan Bay Area website. However, what is described with beautiful pictures of smiling people and sweeping vistas is a one-size-fits-all mandate that demands that Menlo Park, Millbrae, Milpitas and Mill Valley look the same, local residents be damned.

Plan Bay Area is the spawn of Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375, which mandate super regional planning agencies draw up plans to reduce so-called greenhouse gasses. The result is that Association of Bay Area Governments, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission now decide how you and your family will live, travel and in some cases, work…

A dedicated group of citizens is pushing back against this regional, bureaucratic overreach. They call themselves the Nine County Coalition; their website explains they are an “informal diverse assemblage of ordinary citizens who share a mission to oppose the relentless trend towards the governance by bureaucrats that obliterates the government [by citizens]” so that, “regional challenges can be met without abdication of our constitutional right to vote in or out the officials who make decisions for us.”

We are living in a world that is far away from that of citizen control and responsibility for local decisions. Fortunately, there is a way out. This November, ask your city council candidates where they stand on retaking control over our lives. Listen carefully to their answers, then decide if they are willing to stand up to the regional bureaucrats, or if they’re stuck in another dimension, that of the Plan Bay Area zone.

John McDowell is a longtime county resident having first moved to San Carlos in 1963. In the intervening years, he has worked as a political volunteer and staff member in local, state, and federal government, including time spent as a press secretary on Capitol Hill and in the George W. Bush administration(more)