It’s San Francisco’s Fault

Picture of San Francisco at Sunset.

San Francisco at Sunset (Image via Wikipedia)

While San Francisco is a beautiful city in many ways, it is also the butt of many conservatives’ jokes, and often with good reason. The city is notorious for policies that are so far left that they hurt the constituents in the end. But ideology frequently wins the day in San Francisco.

Just a few examples of what I mean:

Supervisor Eric Mar (San Francisco, being both a city and county, has a Board of Supervisors, but no City Council) instituted a ban on toys in restaurant meals that don’t meet minimum nutrition standards. He reportedly was shocked to find so many such toys in a drawer in his house. Is the implication that he believes so little in personal responsibility that he wants government to restrict him? I’m all for providing ready access to nutritional information, but I can’t get behind this sort of government intrusion. For what it’s worth, Mayor Gavin Newsom (considered by many San Franciscans to be conservative) opposed the restriction, but there were enough “yea” votes from the Board to override his veto.

The City is now in discussions over banning the distribution of bottled water at events on City property.

San Francisco resident Lloyd Schofield is working to get an initiative on the ballot to ban circumcision in San Francisco. Never mind that San Francisco has a significant Jewish population.

The city government is notorious for capriciously holding up construction projects. It took about a decade for a vacant former hardware store to be reopened as a Lowe’s. This was after Home Depot gave up. Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s had plans to open new stores near the Castro district, but were told that they must charge for parking, a restriction not placed on other grocery stores in the city, including the Safeway within a couple of blocks of the two other stores’ planned sites and the other Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s locations around the city. These delays and restrictions nearly always come from the Board of Supervisors, late in the project design phases.

Chris Daly, one of the more outspoken Board members, publicly protested the 2008 Olympic torch passing through the city.

And this Board will choose the interim mayor, now that Newsom is heading to Sacramento to be California’s next Lieutenant Governor.

Is it any wonder that San Francisco is a lightning rod for the right?

About Michael Weiss

Michael is now located at, along with Monotreme, filistro, and dcpetterson. Please make note of the new location.
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25 Responses to It’s San Francisco’s Fault

  1. robert verdi says:

    well, over here in New York our board rolled over for Bloomberg and simply ignored the the democratic vote to have term limits. As for the nanny state governance, its a sad fact that Voltaire’s advice to let others tend their own garden is often forgotten by politicians of all stripes and parties,

  2. Monotreme says:

    When the lights go down in the city ♫ And the sun shines on the bay ♫ Do I want to be there in my city? ♫ Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

  3. Brian says:

    I really like the concept of banning toys on non-nutritional meals. Not a government ban, but perhaps a general consensus between McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, et al. I think that could be very real, positive step toward battling childhood obesity. As a general rule, I dislike government bans, unless they are absolutely and utterly necessary.

  4. Monotreme says:

    This actually happened to me in Berkeley, not San Francisco, but it so neatly encapsulated the Bay Area experience that I think it fits here.

    When I was a Berkeley student, I would usually eat lunch, if at all, one of two places. Either I would go to Top Dog for a hot dog (a calabrese if it was early in the month and I was feeling wealthy), or across Durant Avenue to a little handmade sandwich shop that sold plastic-wrapped sandwiches for (as I recall) about a buck. These weren’t fancy at all, but made on commercial whitebread or whole wheat bread, just like Mom would’ve packed with a sack lunch.

    Durant Avenue was five lanes, one-way going downhill (west) and I was going north, so I looked to the left to see if anyone was coming. The coast was (apparently) clear, so I stepped off the curb and was almost taken out by a woman riding her bicycle uphill against traffic on the south side of the road. She got off her bike and started screaming at me.

    This scene was witnessed by another young woman, also on a bike, who was going west on the other side of the street, riding with traffic. She walked her bike over to where the two of us were (me standing in stunned silence, taking a tongue-lashing from the first bicyclist; she screaming about traffic rules and idiots who didn’t look where they were going).

    The second bicyclist then proceeded to berate the first, telling her (correctly) that she was not supposed to ride against traffic and that I had no need to look to my right and yield to her because she was going against traffic illegally. They were fully engaged in their own meta-argument and I just slipped away, hungry for my cheapass sandwich. I don’t know how it worked out.

    During my time in Berkeley, I saw many such arguments break out where I really didn’t want to get involved on either side.

  5. Brian,

    I agree, but the toys make a huge difference in terms of sales. That’s why they do it, and that’s why we won’t see them get rid of them voluntarily.

    But why aren’t parents taking responsibility here???

  6. Bart DePalma says:

    The Peoples Republic of San Francisco is a target rich environment of what you get when progressives have free reign and the people actually return these mini-totalitarians to office.

  7. Monotreme,

    Oh yes. I’ve seen that sort of thing in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Seattle. The public lectures really surprise me, in part because of how self-righteous they get. I’ve seen the same thing in places in the South, but that self-righteousness has a more religious bent.

  8. Brian says:

    Bart, I don’t mean to be rude, and I apologize if I come across that way, but what do you mean by mini-totalitarians? It seems like these are the officials the people of San Fransisco want in office. I don’t entirely approve of their ideas, but it certainly doesn’t seem like they’re totalitarian either. They’re just backing what their constituents want. If everyone had that same idea, it would be “the will of the people”, but instead it’s a small sect of the country, which will be noted and disregarded. Either way, it’s certainly not totalitarian.

    And I agree, that the toys make a huge difference. But I’d like to see those companies sit down and at least come up with a better reason than “we want more money at the expense of millions of American children”. Anything else they could come up with would be better than the current way of life, but I’m not hoping for miracles. Honestly, I would say a best case scenario would be a round table discussion with everyone from the CEO of McDonalds to Michelle Obama discussing what our country could do to combat this issue.

    I’m still getting used to this format by the way, so be kind. I’m more used to a more echo-chamberish 60% Democratic scientific forum. Besides, I’m only 24. Y’all got a lot more experience than I do debating politics.

  9. filistro says:

    @Brian… Bart, I don’t mean to be rude, and I apologize if I come across that way…. Y’all got a lot more experience than I do debating politics

    Welcome, Brian, we’re delighted to have you. I think you’re going to fit in well here… (the Force is strong in this one 😉 )… and there’s no need to worry about being rude to Bart. You’ll soon learn that Bart doesn’t “debate politics”… he lays down a string of socially-conservative Republican talking points and then beats a retreat when they are challenged.

    It’s just Bart’s lovable way of being a blockhead. But he’s OUR blockhead, so we have to put up with it.

    And you’re entirely right that the SF city officials should be backing the policies that are wanted by their constituents. (Incidentally that’s what Bart also believes… as long as the “constituents” in question are paid-up members of the Tea Party.)

  10. It’s unfortunate, though, that they often support policies that ultimately hurt them in the end.

    Kind of like so many conservative voters.

  11. WA7th says:

    To anyone who would enforce a local norm upon me, a complete stranger, I say without any hint of a local accent, “Excuse me, I’m here for the day on an unplanned layover after my non-stop flight was canceled, and you’re the first person I’ve met. Are all the locals as charming as you are?”

  12. robert verdi says:

    By the way, low income people are the number one victims of the bands, its the affluent and politically influential who play these social engineering games.

  13. filistro says:

    @Robert…By the way, low income people are the number one victims of the bands

    LOL Robert…. I read your post before my coffee and immediately started thinking about bands whose music was terrible enough to cause actual harm to low-income people.

    I’d come up with several before I got to your correction 🙂

  14. filistro says:

    The “outrage at local norms” thing is always interesting to me. It’s another part of US and THEM…. where OUR restrictions are always reasonable and fair, while THEIRS are arbitrary and ridiculous.

    For instance if I visit Saudi Arbai, local norms require that I cover my head in public. I would probably resent this and grumble about it, consider it demeaning to women, and wonder why *I* should be subject to a social/religious taboo that has no meaning for me.

    But really, how is covering the head any different than covering the breasts? If people visited us from a culture that considered baring the breasts a normal thing, wouldn’t we still want them to cover up while shopping in our stores and eating burgers at our McDonald’s?

  15. filistro says:

    I see nothing at all wrong with banning toys in Happy Meals. They are essentially a bribe to get little kids to consume too many trans-fats and calories. I put them on a par with this kind of atrocity… since the health consequences of smoking and obesity are both costly to all of us. Should a tobacco company be free to push “candy-flavored” cigarettes, just because we don’t want to “interfere with business?”

    It’s not like the toys are “free”. They add a couple of bucks to the cost of the meal. People who want so badly for their kids to have a toy with their 800 calories of burgers and fries are entirely free to buy their own toys and give them to their kids while they eat.

    Good for San Francisco. Initiatives like this are easy to mock… but they are doing the right thing.

  16. robert verdi says:

    glad you got a chuckle.

  17. dcpetterson says:


    The “outrage at local norms” thing is always interesting to me. It’s another part of US and THEM…. where OUR restrictions are always reasonable and fair, while THEIRS are arbitrary and ridiculous.

    And yet … the right wing is always telling us how we have to leave things in local control, and not let the Federal Government get involved. Small-scale government bodies are always better than larger ones.

    Odd how Bart bleats this so frequently, and yet he has the gall to complain when a small local government follows the will of the local people and does something he doesn’t like.

  18. shortchain says:

    I see no problem with regulating calorie suppliers who produce a bad product and sell it with marketing aimed at children.

    What I wonder is how San Fran gets such “forward-thinking” government. We know how Texas got its execrable textbook commission — subterfuge and electoral shenanigans — but that was temporary. San Fran seems pretty much permanently on the edge. Is it the county/city thing? In our neck of the woods we have both a county and a city, and they collaborate on raising property taxes while hiding who the real culprits are (finger-pointing and obfuscation).

  19. filistro,

    I see nothing at all wrong with banning toys in Happy Meals.

    I don’t mind the end. It’s the means I am uncomfortable with.

  20. filistro says:

    @shortchain… What I wonder is how San Fran gets such “forward-thinking” government

    It’s obvious that forcing good health on people is part of the sinister “homosexual agenda.”

  21. Is it the county/city thing? In our neck of the woods we have both a county and a city, and they collaborate on raising property taxes while hiding who the real culprits are (finger-pointing and obfuscation).

    Not really. San Francisco doesn’t have a city council or a county commissioner. Instead, there’s a board of supervisors and a mayor, and the two cover both county and city. There is both a sheriff and a police department, but the sheriff’s department is very small and has clearly defined duties separate from that of the city police.

    So there’s no opportunity for them to hide.

    SF has gone back and forth between citywide and district elections for supervisors over the years. When it’s citywide, they tend to be more conservative (where “conservative” means like Gavin Newsom). When it’s district based, they tend to go extreme left in at least half of the districts. Right now, it’s district based.

    Incidentally, it was just such a shift from citywide to district that made it possible for Harvey Milk to get elected back in the 70s.

    By the way, Seattle and Portland are very similar to San Francisco, politically speaking. It’s just not as well publicized.

  22. Mainer says:

    I’m a country bumpkin on the first order. Around here we can even some times be refered toas being a little woods queer. We are not the smoothest of people and we have a pretty defined sense of right and wrong. So one could easily make the assumption that I would not fit in very well in San Francisco but that would be completly wrong. I love going there. I have been stationed there, worked there (briefly) and never go there that I do not have fun or don’t meet really interesting tallented people.

    Oddly though I have uptight friends that would rather take a beating over going there. Hard to understand I guess. Is there a neater party street any where any better than Union Street? Yup I love the place, the food, the people the eccentric behavior, it is all good.

    Unfortunatly for the uptight, white and right crowd San Franscisco is Sodom and Gomorrah personified. I find it really amusing that one of the most progressive and upscale rapid transit systems we have in this country is called B A R T. How damned fitting is that?

  23. swampmongrel says:

    I don’t mind the end. It’s the means I am uncomfortable with.

    Sorry I don’t understand what is wrong with the ‘means’. This is locally represented polticians acting on behalf of their constituents. Where’s the beef?
    Or am I missing something?

  24. swampmongrel,

    Government in the US is designed to be limited. The Constitution intentionally prevents government from doing lots of things, among them protecting the minority from the “tyranny of the majority.” This particular case looks like a group forcing their will on someone else. Nobody is forcing them to go to McDonalds.

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