Sunday, April 5, 2009

Willie Brown's delusional world

How does Willie Brown get away with it. I can't figure out if he is stupid, arrogant, or what.

Today - in the Chronicle

A major war is going on between former state Sen. Quentin Kopp and the rest of the world.

He has decided that the high-speed rail line should end at Fourth and Townsend streets, not downtown at the Transbay Terminal.

Basically, he thinks the station should be able to accommodate a train every 5 minutes, as if there is ever going to be a train every 5 minutes.

His call for the Fourth and Townsend site is also inconsistent with 25 years of city planning.

But he is the chairman of the High Speed Rail Commission, and that is power.

So I've enlisted myself to become involved and to join with other members of the commission to get Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to weigh in.

High-speed rail is one of the projects that is ready to go and it has a lot of backers. In fact, it is probably the only issue that Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Chris Daly agree on.

So Kopp is going to get piled on.

Brown is no longer an elected official but of course fancies himself to be still a bit of a power broker. The question I have - who actually wants this guy brokering anything?

"as if there is ever going to be a train every 5 minutes."

That's 12 trains an hour. Currently Caltrain runs 6 trains an hour just for local service during rush hour so 12 an hour isn't that far fetched when you electrify the trains and add in HSR.

But I digress.

"His call for the Fourth and Townsend site is also inconsistent with 25 years of city planning."

For those not paying attention, for 8 of those 25 years, Brown was the Mayor. So let us look at Brown's position as Mayor.

It was less than two years ago that San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown torpedoed attempts to extend the railroad from its present terminal at Fourth and Townsend streets to the Transbay Terminal via underground tracks, calling the plan too expensive.

But Brown changed his tune last December after backers of the downtown extension qualified an initiative for the November 1999 ballot, which is when he will be running for re-election.

Brown's little ditty today conveniently neglects the fact that he was against it before he was for it - to the major detriment of the extension. He flip flopped not because he had a sudden burst of intelligence regarding policy - he was worried he would lose the election. If you think it was too expensive then, what is it now?

I'm looking somewhat in vain for Brown's exact quote - I remember it from just after I moved to SF from Palo Alto in 1998. Basically he said he didn't want to spend all the money to build something that only benefits people on the peninsula commuting to San Francisco. He failed to think about the impact on HSR and to foresee that huge expansion of the reverse commute population - a 2nd/Mission station would improve the commute for a lot of Caltrain reverse commuters.

I'm not so sure we should build this thing now. Had we taken the bull by the horns back then we'd be pretty happy today. But Willie is more about his myopic vision - that extends pretty much to the tip of his fedora - than about vision of the future of the Bay Area and California.

How did we get 16 years of Brown/Newsom. Wow.

1 comment:

295bus said...

I had forgotten about Brown's earlier opposition to the downtown extension.

Already, when I read that letter, my first thought was, that he's right, but he's no one to talk!

We really, *really* need to evolve beyond "Il Duce"-style transit planning.