Right coast vs. wrong coast

Dear Chris;

For everyones benefit the following from the blog site AND THEN followed by an article by CW Nevius about SF and its stupidity regarding businesses. And by extenison competition and jobs and dollars for SF.


The third concerned skateboarding, and this is when I realized (again) how much I like living in New Hampshire. Currently, skateboarding on the streets or sidewalks is illegal in all of Portsmouth. Nearly everyone realizes that this is stupid. A proposed ordinance came out of the Traffic & Safety committee to allow skateboarding throughout the city, except the Downtown Business District. So far, so good. But somewhat to the Council’s own surprise and to the consternation of a large number of people, the lifting of the ban came with a giant pile of restrictions: helmets, kneepads, and elbow pads must be worn at all times, and the wheels of the device must not leave the ground. Person after person, from age 12 to 50s or 60s came up to say the same thing: don’t legislate away responsibility. Let people take responsibility for their own actions. Let parents do their job as parents and be responsible for their kids. Don’t give cops more grounds for
selective enforcement and harassment of youth. On, and on; I was so very pleased. The parallels were made to New Hampshire’s (current) lack of a seatbelt law for adults in cars, and the lack of a requirement for motorcyclists or bicyclists to wear helmets. Only two crotchety old men (one self-described, the other self-evident) opposed lifting the ban at all, on the grounds that Someone Could Get Hurt.
What was really amazing here was that the City Council agreed! They had not expected the restrictive language; the City Attorney apparently put that in to protect the city from liability issues. That’s his job, but the Council sent it back to Traffic & Safety (rather than attempting to revise it on the fly) to be redrafted without the restrictions. The state motto was invoked several times, and the Assistant Mayor—and he may regret this, as I intend to hold him to it in the future—said, “I’m a Live Free Or Die guy.” Councilor Dwyer continued to reinforce my perception that she is the real-life version of Kyle’s Mom from South Park; she went on at some length about a reconsideration of the city’s entire alternative transportation infrastructure, the use of bike lanes, safety rules for all human-powered transit, etc.

Mission residents reject American Apparel
C.W. Nevius
Saturday, February 7, 2009Congratulations to the residents of Valencia Street. After a rowdy and sometimes misleading campaign, they managed to stop American Apparel - a socially conscious, popular, American-run clothing store - from moving into one of the street's vacant storefronts.
The hoot, of course, is that many of the vociferous opponents of the store admit that they buy and wear American Apparel clothing. Some of them wore it to the City Planning Commission meeting to argue against the store opening in their neighborhood.
"Everyone I know is wearing an American Apparel T-shirt right now," said Chicken John Rinaldi, one of the protest organizers. "I wear one every day."
It's another through-the-looking-glass moment in San Francisco. They love the product but hate the store solely because there are about 260 of them worldwide. That means it's a chain and unwelcome under any circumstances.
By a 7-0 vote - including staunch Republican Michael Antonini - the Planning Commission refused to grant the company a conditional use permit.
This only reinforces San Francisco's reputation as America's squeaky-wheel city. If you can get 200 people together and persuade them to show up at a meeting and raise a fuss, you can stop damn near anything in this town. At some point, someone is going to have to stand up and say we've had enough of government dominated by small groups of shouting people.
I am not holding my breath.
"I'm scratching my head on this one," said Steve Adams, president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro. "There was all this opposition to American Apparel, saying that you need to be socially conscious. Well, they are. They pay their workers more, they have a health plan and they opposed Prop. 8. I'm still trying to figure this one out."
Opponents see it all in black and white. At Thursday night's Planning Commission meeting, public comment on American Apparel ran for about three hours. They railed against retail chain stores as if they were polyester golf pants. One called it "the beginning of the end of Valencia Street," and another warned ominously of allowing "these parasitic entities to come in."
And you thought it was just a T-shirt store with tacky ad campaigns.
Many opponents offered up the same argument: that the minute American Apparel moved in, local businesses would be forced to close and a flood of chain stores would swamp the neighborhood.
Uh, actually, that's not right.
In 2006, voters passed Proposition G, which states that before a chain store can move into a neighborhood, it is required to apply for a conditional use permit before the Planning Commission.
"A lot of energy went into this," said Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who opposed American Apparel. "But I think the 7-0 vote shows that this tool works."
I don't have any quibble with requiring American Apparel to seek out a special permit. My complaint is that Prop. G is being used as a bludgeon instead of a scalpel. If a socially conscious chain store whose clothes are already wildly popular in a neighborhood wanted to move in, you would think that would be fine.
Now, if it were a Wal-Mart or, as Adams says, something that was already well represented, it should be turned down. It's happened elsewhere.
"One thing we said no to was a porn supermarket," he said. "C'mon, it's the Castro. We've already got enough of them."
Admittedly, American Apparel totally blew its rollout in the neighborhood. More than one civic leader warned the company that it needed to do an enormous amount of community outreach, with Dufty leading the way. Instead, company officials basically announced they were moving in and left the neighbors to deal with it.
"I met with them and gave them 10 things I thought they should do," Dufty said. "The reality is they have done none of those things."
In contrast, take the case of Levi's, which wanted to open an outlet on Castro Street. Working through Dufty, the company met with merchants, explained their plans and even pointed out that they wouldn't undercut competitors - products sold in the Levi's store cost as much as $10 more than in mom-and-pop stores.
The result? Levi's conditional use permit passed - there was not a single dissenting vote.
So, if American Apparel had done all that, would it now be setting up shop on Valencia? Probably not. Valencia is one politically active street.
"The deal is, we are not going to allow a chain store to come in here," Rinaldi said. "Never. No way. End of story."
Even if the store makes perfect sense?
I guess that's what you get when you leave city policy to a guy who calls himself "Chicken."

Ron Getty - SF Libertarian
Hostis res Publica
Morte ai Tiranni
Dum Spiro, Pugno

It is a curious brand of libertarian compromise that Chicken John chooses to engage in -- support violating American Apparel's rights, but make up for it by giving them free advertising. But I think I understand his dilemma. In a truly free market, large, organized companies like chains would have less of an advantage, because small, independent business owners wouldn't be saddled with the government rules, regulations, and mandates that are easier for large established firms with armies of lawyers and consultants to navigate, and all businesses would be much freer to unleash their creativity and try new things, meaning "formula" retail would likely be quickly left in the dust. If a relative lack of sterile, cookie-cutter businesses is one of the things that most appeals to you about a free society, and you see no ready way of getting there from here, jumping than done.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))