State of the City speech filled with unsupported promises

Mayor Lee's speech was long pledges, promises, and platitudes, but short of support.

It was maddening to watch Mayor Ed Lee deliver his annual State of the City address this morning. This was pure politics, from the staged backdrop of housing construction at Hunters Point Shipyard to the use of “regular people” props to the slate of vague and contradictory promises he made.

“This place, the shipyard, links our proud past to an even more promising future,” was how Lee began his hour-plus, invite-only address.

Later, he touted the housing construction being done there by Lennar Urban as emblematic of both his promise to bring 30,000 new housing units online by 2020 — the cornerstone to what he called his “affordability agenda” — and the opposition to unfettered development that he is pledging to overcome.

“A great example is the place we’re standing right now. This took us too long,” Lee said after decrying the “easy slogans and scapegoating” by progressive activists who place demands on developers.

But that implication was complete bullshit. As we and others have reported, progressive and community activists have long encouraged Lennar Urban (which has a close relationship to Lee) to speed up development on this public land that it was given almost a decade ago, particularly the long-promised affordable housing, rather than waiting for the real estate market to heat up.

That was just one of many examples of misleading and unsupported claims in a speech that might have sounded good to the uninformed listener, but which greatly misrepresented the current realities and challenges in San Francisco.

For example, Lee called for greater investments in the public transit system while acknowledging that his proposal to ask voters this November to increase the vehicle license fee isn’t polling well. And yet even before that vote takes place, Lee wants to extend free Muni for youth and repeal the policy of charging for parking meters on Sundays without explaining how he’ll pay for that $10 million per year proposal.

“Nobody likes it, not parents, not our neighborhood businesses, not me,” Lee said of Sunday meters, ignoring a study last month by the San Francisco Muncipal Transportation Agency showing the program was working well and accomplishing its goals of increasing parking turnover near businesses and bringing in needed revenue.

Lee also glossed over the fact that he hasn’t provided funding for the SFMTA’s severely underfunded bicycle or pedestrian safety programs, yet he still said, “I support the goals of Vision Zero to eliminate traffic deaths in our city.”

Again, nice sentiment, but one that is totally disconnected from how he’s choosing to spend taxpayer money and use city resources. And if Lee can somehow achieve his huge new housing development push, Muni and other critical infrastructure will only be pushed to the breaking point faster.  

Lee acknowledges that many people are being left out of this city’s economic recovery and are being displaced. “Jobs and confidence are back, but our economic recovery has still left thousands behind,” he said, pledging that, “We must confront these challenges directly in the San Francisco way.”

And that “way” appears to be by making wishful statements without substantial support and then letting developers and venture capitalists — such as Ron Conway, the tech and mayoral funder seated in the second row — continue calling the shots.

Even with his call to increase the city’s minimum wage — something that “will lift thousands of people out of poverty” — he shied away from his previous suggestion that $15 per hour would be appropriate and said that he needed to consult with the business community first.

“We’ll seek consensus around a significant minimum wage increase,” he said, comparing it to the 2012 ballot measures that reformed the business tax and created an Affordable Housing Fund (the tradeoff for which was to actually reduce the on-site affordable housing requirements for developers).

But Mayor Lee wants you to focus on his words more than his actions, including his identication with renters who “worry that speculators looking to make a buck in a hot market will force them out.”

Yet there’s little in his agenda to protect those vulnerable renters, except for his vague promise to try to do so, and to go lobby in Sacramento for reforms to the Ellis Act. While in Sacramento, he says he’ll also somehow get help for City College of San Francisco, whose takeover by the state and usurpation of local control he supported.   

“City College is on the mend and already on the path to full recovery,” Lee said, an astoundingly out-of-touch statement that belies the school’s plummeting enrollment and the efforts by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and others to push back on the revocation of its accreditation.

Lee also had the audacity to note the “bone dry winter” we’re having and how, “It reminds us that the threat of climate change is real.” Yet none of the programs he mentions for addressing that challenge — green building standards, more electric vehicle infrastructure, the GoSolar program — would be as effective at reducing greenhouse gas emmisions as the CleanPowerSF program that Lee and his appointees are blocking, while offering no other plan for building renewable energy capacity.

Far from trying to beef up local public sector resources that vulnerable city residents increasingly need, or with doing environmental protection, Lee instead seemed to pledge more of the tax cutting that he’s used to subsidize the overheating local economy.

“Affordability is also about having a city government taxpayers can afford,” Lee said. “We must be sure we’re only investing in staffing and services we can afford over the long term.”

How that squares with his pledges to put more resources into public transit, affordable housing development, addressing climate change, and other urgent needs that Lee gives lip service to addressing is anybody’s guess.  


I was wondering who was going to point out to this guy that it's possible to make more than one hour-long round trip in a morning! I trust the people at Genentech to better make that calculation than some angry mental midget trying to count rows of seats through tinted windows!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 10:20 am

PC alert: they're called "mental little people" now.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 11:29 am

I see we have yet another dense person. That trait is most common with the angry, smug, nasty trolls.

I'm the person who counted the seats. Even though the windows are tinted, it was at night and the lights were on in the shuttle (because 2 techies got off) so it was very easy to see in to count the rows of seats.

The bus says, "THIS BUS takes 120 cars off the street." That deceitfully implies the full capacity of the bus and that 120 people are on the bus, when they're not. Regardless of the number of trips the bus makes that's not the point and Genetech does not make that point either. They say nothing about the number of trips any bus takes because, again, that's not their point. "THIS BUS takes 120 cars off the street is merely a blanket statement on the back of their shuttle. Upon close analysis, it's meaningless and it's green-washing. But if you want to eat the ass of Genetech, open wide. But that bus doesn't hold 120 people, as they erroneously claim.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

Let people go on with their lives and you can go have a beer or something, go smoke your bong at the medical weed store.

Your Google Bus weirdness is sad.

Posted by maybe a guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 2:49 am

"Your Google Bus weirdness is sad."

What Google Bus weirdness? What is sad is your reading and comprehension skills. I haven't said anything about the Google bus. I wrote about the Genetech Gentrification and Eviction shuttle. I know they both begin with a "G" but Genetech is not Google, or are you that out of it---from your beer and bong---that you think they're the same company? You have to look at the entire word, and not just the first letter.

I advise you to take your own suggestion about finding a hobby. It's best if you focus on yourself. For a hobby, you could start with working on your reading and comprehension skills since they seem to be quite remedial at best.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 4:16 am

Why is it that so many people on the hard left in SF clearly exhibit signs of mental illness/extremely poor socialization?

I mean honestly... counting bus seats ?? lunacy.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:57 am

not a shock that many extremists - left and right - have mental issues.

You see this partly in the obsessional way they post and stalk, but also in some of the bizarre opinions that they hold.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 11:11 am

Wonder if it occurred to him/her that maybe the bus had already made a couple of stops and already let off a few people before reaching him/her, which would explain the empty seats. ...and I think the capacity for those buses is around 50-55, not 40 per his "analysis", so even if the buses are only 75% full, Genentech will have made their claim of 120/day, assuming 3 runs each in the morning and evening. (120/55/3=73%) And they have a pretty healthy shuttle to/from glen park...sometimes I see 2 of them coming the other way on 101. Wouldn't be surprised if those buses make 12 runs each combined in the AM/PM.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

where they work. Because clearly people are too stupid to do the right thing.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

and nail - endlessly suing, putting measures on the ballot again and again. They have not been supportive at all - as usual. Then they whine about the cost of housing here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

Rent control and NIMBY land use restrictions constrain the supply of homes and therefore drive up the cost of housing.

The left need these policies for their employment. What conceivably could Steven Jones do if not for writing for a hopeless rag like this?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

Steven's cracking up everyone. Keep up your responses - it may be just enough to send him over the edge.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

These neoliberals will not be satisfied until they compel us all to march in procession bearing gold bricks of public entitlement and subsidy on red velvet pillows with golden tassels in tribute to our economic overlords.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:22 pm

And you will continue to lose it.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:50 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

History has absolved us. People keep voting against market supremacy but the political system never seems to channel that into public policy.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 9:31 pm

policies. You're in denial. Just look around you. You lost the debate.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 8:20 am

or else he would have to concede that his view is losing because the people don't buy it or believe him.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 9:15 am

More and more Americans are open populists, not secret socialists.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 11:10 am

Americans really don't do the kind of policies you advocate for. It must be very frustrating for you.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 11:33 am

Americans vote for the more liberal candidate when given a choice and the system ensures that once elected nothing changes. My bet is that they show them the Zapruder film after swearing in and ask, "Any questions?"

Posted by marcos on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 11:55 am

Ed Lee?


You have a funny way of rationalizing abject defeats as pyrrhic victories. But then I guess you have to since the alternative is admitting failure.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

How soon you forget.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

Go change the constitution if you don't like it.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

received more votes. Change the value of numbers if you don't like it. Sheesh. I didn't vote for either of them.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

Did Avalos get more votes than Lee in 2012?

Marcos's statement is utter nonsense.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 5:32 pm
Posted by maybe a guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

except that he says whatever he can think of to avoid admitting that the American people don't do socialism. That idea is just too painful for him.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

If you weren't so insecure on the tenuousness of corporate control of the population then you would not camp out on websites like this disrupting all conversations. The PATRIOT Act, Department of Homeland Security and violent repression of Occupy Wall Street send the message from above that the issues of empire and finance will not be subject to democratic control. That can only last so long.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

Easily proved. Occupy vanished even in towns and cities where the police elft them alone.

It got cold and wet, so they went home to mom for a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

Usually you are whining about how successful it has been.

Make your mind up.

Although I seriously doubt that the Patriot Act has anything to do with that.

Refutation is not disruption.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 6:11 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

What do you expect in a city where the main drag is named 'Market Street'.

Posted by The Silver Surfer on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

SF has always been a hotbed of capitalism since the gold rush. For all the so-called, much-hyped progressivism, most of us came here to make serious scratch.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 6:22 pm

Speak for yourself Guest.

Btw, 'serious scratch'?

Are you supposed to be Jimmy Cagney?

Posted by Jake Dobbs on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 9:07 pm

You hear it a lot in VC and IB circles.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:20 am

Vulture capitalist and Internet bubble, right?

Posted by Greg on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 9:31 am

Venture Capitalist and Investment Banking. Two key pillars of the Bay Area's stunning leap into the 21st century as the global leader in the knowledge economy and the shared economy.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 9:50 am

That was actually accurate! Your "pillars" are made of sand.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 7:12 pm


The Twitter Downgrade
Wall Street is unfollowing Twitter (TWTR). With the stock up 124 percent since a Nov. 7 initial public offering, only one in five analysts rate it a buy. It’s expensive, says Cantor Fitzgerald’s Youssef Squali, “even compared to other highflying Internet IPOs.”

Use DuckDuckGo to find the article.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

For people who think dreamers like Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly are clever deep thinkers Lee must be a real terror.

We all would like our emotional children to have their way, sooner or later we expect them to grow up and deal with the adult world.

Posted by guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 6:53 am

That's why we see so much Peter Pan Politics here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

The fanatical cult following this man Lee has is something to witness from the pro-Lee cultist trolls on this site. Frankly, if I were a Lee supporter, I would be very embarrassed by them and their comments. I can't imagine anyone getting that rabid and frothing at the mouth over any politician, even one I would support. They consistently come on here every time there's an article about him and write these smug, patronizing, "I own the facts," in-your-face, "I'm omnipotent"-style scripted comments. Their comments are always the same content---in support, adoration and worship of their God Lee, while immaturely bullying other commenters including Steven and other BG writers. They wallpaper this site with half-truths and lies about that election, about RCV, about God Lee and their thinking is that if they put that out there enough times people will believe it. These rabid conservative Lee Cult members finally have their conservative man in power in City Hall---something they have wanted for years and dreamed about---and now they are childishly hell-bent on rubbing this in everyone's face as much and as often as possible. Extremely Tacky and the sign of someone who does not handle or approach victory or defeat in a mature manner, but rather immaturely (as in, "I got mine now so fuck you!").

They refuse to let their God Lee stand on his own. Apparently they think he's very weak otherwise they wouldn't constantly feel the need to prop up their God Lee, rush to defend him upon any criticism whatsoever, serve as his Echo Chamber on here and other forums, nor would they go through the countless calisthenics they go through in gushing over their God Lee and assuring everyone repeatedly that he's the "End All" and the best thing since road tar. They have been rabidly campaigning for their God Lee ever since the election ended. (I've never known people to continue to campaign for any candidate after an election is over...WTF?). If that's not a cult following, I don't know what else is. They remind me of fundamentalist christians with their blinders-on, "my God Lee can do no wrong and whatever he does I will support" unconditional support of their Cult leader. Smug. Ugly.

Now, in typical troll style and based on previous experience, they will troll me by bringing up yet again their other favorite topic John Ávalos, whom I did not vote for. They seem obsessed and possessed by Ávalos. Just by mentioning his name repeatedly they give him more publicity than the corporate media (I guess that's never dawned on them). They will go on about how John is supposedly anti-this and anti-that. But Lee cultists, again I didn't vote for Ávalos in that election. So that won't work for you in trolling me. And regardless of what troll excrement you come up with, I will simply ignore your smug ass and not even read what you write because I've read it all before---all of your Lee Cult copy and paste scripts---hundreds of times unfortunately. I'm sick of reading it. Your scripts are consistently the same. Just copy and pasted. I assume you're well paid by someone for all your thousands of hours of effort in working for and promoting Cult Lee, otherwise you wouldn't put this much energy into something you're getting nothing out of. Either that or you're a damned nut.

Posted by GuestInTheCastro on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

When a mayor has between 51% and 73% approval, that's not a cult. It's a majority and a mandate.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

Wow, too much for your nanosecond attention span to handle, Lee-bot?

Wow, so that's why you only write 1-2 sentences?

Wow, I bet even that's a struggle for you.


Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

Brevity is the soul of satire.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

Oh yeah - it doesn't run on the weekends which is why you felt free to pontificate endlessly in your last comment. I almost wish it would start so you'd have something to do with your days vs. boring us with these endless diatribes. Get a hobby, lobby to reopen the bathhouses - please.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

"it doesn't run on the weekends which is why you felt free to pontificate endlessly in your last comment. "

WTF? I'm the person who has written about the Genetech Gentrification and Eviction shuttles. I'm glad you've thoroughly enjoyed my comments and found them most enlightening and now you too know that Genetech is green-washing with their "this bus removes 120 cars from the street" propaganda and nonsense. But you are incorrect: I write about this topic whether the shuttles are running or not. That's immaterial. In fact, I've written most of my comments here about Genetech **during the week** when the shuttles were running. That's how I was able to count the number of rows on the shuttle at night while waiting for the 33 at the Muni bus stop. One can't possibly count rows when the shuttles aren't running. Think about it. Think that through.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

The shuttles have been legalized and so have The Gays, who can now get married in CA. It's a done deal - not going away. Move on.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 9:49 pm

I'm delighted you've brought this up because it gives me another opportunity to talk about it again.

I would point out that Queers (including myself) having the right to marry have nothing to do with the Gentrification and Eviction shuttles. That's quite a stretch even for someone who's loco/a.

In fact, many Queers are being evicted and forced out of this city because of gentrification caused by the Tech Surveillance-State Industrial Complex which the Gentrification and Eviction shuttles are part of.

BTW, I don't like your language "The Gays"....I find it offensive. Outdated. From my experience, I have found that the term "The Gays" is used today by people who did not originally support the idea of same-sex marriage. But when the Supreme Court made their ruling, some of the sheep decided it was time to "Support The Gays" as they call us. Ugh. And the language "oldies" comes across as a bit ageist. And of course the Tech Surveillance-State Industrial Complex, which you support, is well-known for its ageism.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 4:47 am

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