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Attack of the 100 Foot Yachts, the 1% And The Entitled Mega-Rich

In case you have been living under a rock, the America’s Cup is coming to San Francisco in 2013. What is the America’s Cup? Is it a sport? Yes. Is it Hockey? No, that’s the Stanley Cup. It’s sailing. Large boats sail about and it’s a race of sorts. Honestly I have no idea of any of the particulars past that. I don’t have a membership at the yacht club, I don’t summer at “The Vineyard” and have usually get sick on a boat.

However, this race is a huge deal for our city, will bring in a ton of tourists and a large percentage of wealthy yacht enthusiasts for this event. That’s good. Money is good. I’m all for visitors spending money, especially having the 1% here dropping a chunk of change, bits of caviar and small pocket dogs. What I’m not for is trashing our waterways to accommodate the needs of the very, very few.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the 1% and their yachts. Now these aren’t just regular people with a butt load of dough and a nice boat. These are the uber-wealthy that are planning to bring yachts a little smaller than a cruise ship to San Francisco Bay and need a place to park it. We are talking a boat about 180 – 260 feet long and four stories tall.

The organizers of this event want to park two dozen super yachts along Rincon Park. The problem?
1) These yachts are so tall, they would block the view for all the rest of the people (residents and visitors alike). Since these boats are way too wide for the regular marina they would be docked past the Ferry Building, creating a fantastic view of the Bay and the race for the billionaires on board but a large, white wall for the rest of us.

But wait, there’s more….

2) The agreement brokered between the city and the America’s Cup Event Authority gives them the right to dredge if the yachts are too large to dock (which they are) and create a recreational marina.

If the agreement isn’t tweaked what this would do is actually take a stretch of open lawn and waterway and turn it into a marina for future large yachts, greatly impacting the access and enjoyment the residents and visitors now enjoy.

Hey, I’m all for pumping money into the economy but it should be tempered with an eye to the consequences. Should a prime viewing spot for the race be the exclusive property of two dozen yacht owners just because they have more money than God and a boat the size of a building? Should the citizens and future visitors of our city have to surrender a lovely park and water view for the docking convenience of a select few who don’t want to take their boats to the Marin side of the bay?

I think there should be a way to be good hosts and good stewards at the same time. There have to be other places to park these mega yachts that won’t permanently change the look of our bay side parks. After all, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.. or the 1%.

Pulp Fashion: An Excellent Slice of Time

So Tuesday, I grabbed my friend Kristin and we went to the museum. One of the advantages of being out of work is that you can take off in the middle of the day to see an exhibit and what an exhibit it was. Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is really not to be missed.

Please note that although the exhibit is listed on the De Young Museum website, it’s not at the De Young. It’s at the Legion of Honor and linked via the De Young as they are sister museums. This was a good thing and a bad thing. A bad thing because we parked at the De Young in the garage, were greeted by a snooty employee who told us we were in the wrong place and was generally unpleasant. It’s a shame because I had wanted to see the new refurbishment on the De Young and this woman really didn’t make me want to come back any time soon. She gave us no direction other than “It’s at the Legion of Honor”. That’s nice. You know, I was born here but that doesn’t mean I know where anything is in this city. I haven’t lived here since I was four. Fortunately we were there for only 10 minutes so we weren’t charged for parking. The parking attendant told us where to go and gave us directions. THANK YOU! Hey! Museum people! You need to can the woman upstairs and give her money to the parking guy.

So we were off to the Legion of Honor. I’ve never been there before and let me tell you, it’s beautiful. It’s right on the water, the views are amazing and there is free parking in the small lot and by the side of the road. Free Parking alone is a pearl without price here in The City. The admission to the museum and the exhibit was $15. Hell, when movies are $12, this is a bargain.

We managed to avoid the groups of school kids and wandered through this amazing exhibit. Yes, all of these items are made of paper. The gowns, the jewelry, the shoes, the beads, the lace, everything.

There are times you need to do a double take to make sure what you are seeing isn’t fabric. They even have a yard of cut silk velvet with gold thread under glass. The docent said a similar piece came up for auction at Sotheby’s and sold for over a million dollars.

After the exhibit, we took in the rest of the museum. The have a huge collection of Rodin. I never saw any kind of high tech security system but since these items weigh a ton I doubt you could get them out without many people and the correct kind of transportation equipment.

I highly recommend you visit this museum. The exhibit will be here until June 5th. If you are really short of cash, the first Tuesday of each month, all museums are free.

Reader Mondays: Is There A Limit To The Greed In San Francisco’s Government?

I was born in The City.  I’ve lived in other places during my life but moved back to the Bay Area over a decade ago.  You can drink the water, the weather is fairly mild and it has some of the best views around.  I like that most people are well-read, open-minded and aren’t inclined to tie me to a stick and set me on fire because I don’t share their religious beliefs.  But there is something I have heard that disturbs me.  Parking.

Not just the regular parking mess that always plagues San Francisco.  We know The City is small and there are a shortage of parking spaces, terrible traffic snarls and that idiot bike rider riot that happens once a month.  What I am annoyed with is holiday metered parking.  All of my driving life, it has been a fact that you don’t feed the meters on Federal holidays or Sundays.  These holidays traditionally included New Years Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  Some places would also give you Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day and the day after Thanksgiving.  Well San Francisco is poor.  We know the economy is shit and while the city by the bay is far richer than Squirrelbutt, Arkansas (apologies to the wonderful people of Squirrelbutt), they are cash strapped.

I understand the need to save money but instead of saving money by cutting bureaucratic waste (of which there is a TON), they have decided to grab some more pennies at the expense of the working man.  They have eliminated the holiday meter freebie on certain federal holidays.  Since most of us had no idea that “pick and choose” holiday meter roulette was the new law, tickets fell from the skies.  One of my readers, Ling, had this experience:

“So, on Monday, Labor Day, I went shopping in the Laurel District of San Francisco when I noticed a meter cop distributing tickets on a row of parked cars. Last time I checked, Labor Day is a national holiday, and parking has always been free, like Christmas or MLK Day. Here in the East Bay, holidays, including Labor Day, are listed as free days. Apparently, the City of San Francisco is so strapped for money that it decided to change the holiday free parking law and ticket its residents for street parking on a national holiday!”

Yup, you are correct and it sucks!  I went on-line and found the official scoop.  Everyone take notes.  You can park for FREE at meters on these holidays in San Francisco: New Years Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The city website stated the 4th of July is “Not Enforced in 2010 due to holiday falling on a Sunday”.  So does that mean you have to pay in future years when the holiday falls during the week?  You are going to ticket people on the holiday celebrating the birth of our Nation?  REALLY?!

What pisses me off even more are the holidays NOT covered: Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and the day after Thanksgiving.  I’ll give them the Friday after Thanksgiving but Veteran’s Day?!  HONESTLY?!  I am ashamed at the thought that a person who fought and bled for our country would get a ticket on Veteran’s Day.  Hey Newson!  I know you’ve never served in the military.  Don’t you think this is a travesty or are you too busy with your own political aspirations to care about the City you are suppose to be leading?

The cost of living in San Francisco is through the roof.  A tiny one-room apartment is pricier than a unit of the same size in the Village in New York City . The once friendly, laid-back, progressive image of San Francisco has been replaced with money-pinching politicians, stringent laws and ineffectual police officers. What is happening to our city?  If you really care, you will look harder at the fat that exists within the government rather than taxing your already overburdened citizens.  You still have time to make this right.  You are the Mayor.  If you want to make it happen, you can.  As for the rest of the “unwashed masses”, here are the breaks you DO get on ALL holidays:

  • Street Sweeping: Not enforced (M-F street sweeping that is… the few streets that have 7-day street sweeping will still be enforced)
  • Residential Permit Parking: Not enforced
  • Commuter Towaway: Not enforced
  • Green Zone: Not enforced (short term parking – usually 10 mins Monday-Saturday 10am to 6pm)
  • My advice?  Move out of San Francisco and move to the East Bay, the weather is better anyway and you are still close to the City so you can visit.  How do we change this rule?  Well, a start would be a well worded letter to Mayor Newson asking him to do the right thing and remind him that if he can’t do such a small thing for the citizens of his city, he loses your vote for Lt. Governor.