I wasn’t really sure what the hell Gavin
Newsom was talking about during the June 5 meeting of the San
Francisco Supervisors’ Economic Vitality, Small Business,
and Social Policy Committee. But I certainly understood it.
What a show. Give up your soap operas, folks. Channel 26 on
cable has it all. Power, beauty, danger, sex, and intrigue
right out the segue. Dig this scene.
Conflicts of interest
(Gerardo Sandoval vs. Gavin Newsom)
Want to see a rich guy with a yacht wet his
pants? Suggest bringing a few van loads of troubled black and
brown kids down to walk on the docks to which they tie their
floating palaces. Then suggest that just like midnight
basketball, you could bring the kids down late at night! Ooooh,
ooooh, Gavin was forced to interact with the “rabble” to
stop that one. It was worth passing up my afternoon nap.
Here’s what happened. You figure it out.
Right now, the Marina, like the yacht clubs
flanking it, is pretty much the exclusive domain of rich white
people. It ain’t fair. It’s getting worse. The St. Francis
and Golden Gate Yacht Clubs are looking for their little
spoiled rich boy Gavin Newsom to tie up the public marina
between the clubs in some kind of thousand-year lease by which
they pay next to nothing and gain even tighter control. Oh,
and they also want their own rents lowered and they’re more
than willing to engage in a rent-strike to get what they want.
Guess what would happen to you if you didn’t pay your rent?
I digress … Back to the point.
When the new board came in at the first of
the year, the supes found half of the public land all the way
from Sunol to Treasure Island locked up by long-term leases by
rich folks who had (just coincidentally) contributed to the
Brown/Burton machine. The other half, they found either for
sale or basically “in escrow.”
You don’t wanna mess with property a rich
guy has in the old pipeline. There’s lots of it and one of
the key pieces is the public marina (contains about 700 slips
— that’s parking spots) down on Marina Green. It is most
certainly some of the most valuable property on the face of
the earth. The City of San Francisco has been a slum landlord
to this property for many years. They don’t do much a’
nuttin’ down there. Willie and his friends want this piece
of property to look bad so they’ll have an excuse to give it
to the yacht clubs. Their point man in this exercise is
Supervisor Gavin Newsom. His accomplice in the exercise is the
head of Rec & Parks, Elizabeth Goldstein. Right now, the
marina is crumbling while a variety of Willie Brown appointed
citizens’ advisory committees and rubber-stamp commissions
put together a lease for the property for the yacht clubs.
Essentially, that’s it. Newsom whined and
cried and pouted until the full board accepted an audit of the
marina that said the place should be privatized (given to
Gavin’s rich buddies) if conditions weren’t improved.
Since the board (idiotically) passed that little piece of
legislation, the Brown Machine has done everything possible to
run the projected cost of bringing the marina up to snuff ($33
million now says Goldstein) … as high as possible. All the
money they’ve collected in the marina is going toward more
studies and planning instead of toward maintenance and
infrastructure capital projects (huh?).
That’s the backdrop of the Newsom/Sandoval
There are 4 hands here. Don’t get
On the one hand, we have the yacht clubs
waiting to grab the property.
On the other hand, we have the tenants of
the harbor, who basically rent the parking spaces. The yacht
club folks are doing ok. They sometimes stop paying their rent
when they’re pouting or showing off, but they’re doing ok.
On the other, other hand, we have the people
who own the boats parked down there. They’ve gotta watch
their butts. It’s gotten more dangerous since the city
started deferring maintenance. They want their rents spent on
fixing the docks.
On the other, other, other — got that? —
hand, we have you … the rest of the citizens of San
Francisco, of whom one of Supervisor Sandoval’s speakers
noted: “The place belongs to ALL of the citizens of San
It went like this.
Supervisor Sandoval presented a modest
little program for bringing deprived kids to the marina. I
mean … duhhhh! However, as Supervisor Newsom was quick to
point out, no one asked the various rubber-stamp city and rich
neighborhood groups if it was ok to bring these van loads of
“colored” kids down to whitey’s private preserve.
Gavin was real upset. Granted, the ‘Y’
and various Beacon Centers have impeccable credentials.
Granted, it was a wonderful program that Gavin would love to
contribute to. But it interfered with the rich guys’ master
plan. It was a question of the “source of funding,”
hammered Newsom, who had funneled many times the sum requested
away from the marina and down such dark holes as a “Study of
Toxicity in Gas House Cove.” It wasn’t the prospect of his
rich district being overrun by groups of children of color
that Gavin objected to. Naw, he wanted to take the deferred
maintenance money and spend it on some more studies to prove
that his buddies at the yacht clubs should take over the whole
place. What a guy. He thinks he’s better than the rest of
the members of the board (virtually all of whom are better
educated and more experienced than he is). He replied
caustically to Sandoval, who tried to get him back on the
subject at hand: “This fits together, but some might not see
I see it, Gavin. See if I’m right.
San Francisco Raiders
The San Francisco Raiders are a small group
of developers, financiers, and realtors who spend their time
identifying either large blocks of property or other valuable
public assets. Once identified, the Raiders move to seize
control, either outright or through other long-term
contractual agreements, of the city’s most valuable
holdings. The marina I’ve spoken of is atop their list.
Harding Golf Course is another. The land under the old Central
Freeway is a nice chunk they’ve moved upon. The Raiders
noted the huge Muni bus yards with drools, and they’re
moving to corner that land. The PUC holdings are being
steadily parceled out.
The most amazing thing to me is that
virtually all of these rip-offs have to go before the new
board not just once, but sometimes several time. And still,
Gavin and the mayor’s staff have barely broken pace with the
giveaways. The new supes are badly outnumbered. The mayor
moves to confuse the board committees with long blathering
staff reports and obfuscation that would do any magician
Hopefully, there will be a few bones left
for the people once the big dogs have feasted. Don’t count
miles to go before you sleep: firstname.lastname@example.org