Has George Orwell struck in SF


Has George Orwell struck in SF

The “City by the Bay” has disolved its Department of Parking and Traffic and set up a new division with the name “Sustainable Streets Division.” Read all about it here. According to that source of all knowledge, Widipedia, Sustainable development is defined as:

…a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations.

Fair Enough. I’m all for meeting human needs both now and in the future. It has taken 11 years for the city to come up with this new division, and they are having difficulty finding someone to run it. A nationwide search has come up wanting. I wonder why.

Could it be that any candidate for the job who has a parking or traffic background would be concerned about being dropped in the middle of a confrontation between environmentalists, politicians, business, and residents, all of whom are stakeholders in this process AND have the deck stacked against him or her for the outset.

Residents and businesses want to have parking, environmentalists want bike paths, and politicians are trying to keep everyone happy. Add on to that the political climate in San Francisco and there you have it. No job pays high enough for that. Once you change the name to “Sustainable Streets Division” haven’t you told the world which direction all decisions will lean? My guess is that there would be outrage if the name was changed to “Parking and Traffic Policing and Enforcement” or “Division of Parking Revenue Enhancement and Towing,” or even “Parking Assistance Organization.”

Don’t get me wrong – San Francisco has done some admirable things what with its ongoing installation of systems to provide data for onstreet market based pricing and all. I am looking forward to seeng the results of their program.

The article does infer that it will take more than a name change to change attitudes. That is certain. Parking officials have fought for years for a seat at the decision making table. Far too often decisions are made that greatly affect traffic and parking without the consultation of parking officials. Only recently have we seen that parking officials have been involved in the planning that affects their arena. It’s been a long hard fought battle to get parking to the core of the decision making process, although they have to adjudicate the results. My guess is that the person eventually hired will have a green background, be an environmental planner, and have environmental credentials that go all the way to Sunday. This would be great for bike paths, parks, and Sustainable Streets, but will it be good for parking planning?

Is this a step forward, or a step back. We shall see.



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John Van Horn

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