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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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Moms Versus Tom

What about thumb wrestling?: [Supervisor Tom] Ammiano might be playing a bigger role in the "Reefer-Ra" war than it first appears ["Reeferzilla Meets NIMBY-Ra," Matt Smith, Oct. 12]. I enjoyed Matt Smith's column on [Supervisor Ross] Mirkarimi's relentless efforts to make sure every block has a [pot] club to call its own. But there is more! If Ammiano wants to be the next school superintendent, he will need to practice his sumo wrestling skills. Not only is Ammiano paying a pittance in property taxes under Prop. 13; if he wants to be superintendent, he will need to wrestle with a lot of real-taxpaying moms when they learn he sided with Mirkarimi to allow pot clubs within 500 feet of schools. The PTA will go nuts over that.

Kim Stryker
San Francisco

Comedy Central

Good things come in Puni packages: I needed a good laugh, and the "Google Buys San Francisco" [comic strip] was right on the mark [Oct. 5]! Go Puni!

Name withheld
San Francisco

Rhythm and News

The moment of misconception: Your article on abstinence ["Abstinence a Go-Go!," Infiltrator, Sept. 28] contained a common misconception about natural family planning. Your author refers to it as the "so-called rhythm method." However, NFP, while based on the same principle, is far more accurate and reliable than the old rhythm method. The rhythm method relied on simply counting the number of days since the woman's last period. However, NFP relies on much more accurate methods of determining when a woman is ovulating such as basal temperature and mucous thickness. NFP, when practiced properly, is far more effective than the rhythm method and as effective as condoms.

Just wanted to bring this to your attention.

Dave Smith
San Francisco

Infiltrator scores again: Great write-up! Especially the "tea-bagging"!

Keep up the muckraking, mockery, and general mind-fucking!

Gene [Last name withheld]
Oakland

S.F. as Welfare Queen

Driving the point home: While I agree with Mr. Smith's general dislike of government pork, I had a good laugh reading a San Francisco columnist, in the home of pork barrel politics, rant about pork barrel politics ["Pig Government," Matt Smith, Sept. 21].

For the 60 percent of San Franciscans who have been here less than five years, let me fill in a few of the facts that Mr. Smith either "forgot" or never knew.

Circa 1972, California voters passed Proposition 13, limiting property taxes. Prop. 13 required an overhaul of the tax code, which was largely written by San Francisco state Sen. Phillip Burton, older brother of just-termed-out Sen. John Burton. This "overhaul" was written to grossly favor San Francisco, exactly the kind of pork politics Matt Smith is ranting about. By specifying that sales-tax dollars were to be distributed where the money was spent, not where it was earned, nor where the person who spent the money lives, a gross asymmetry in the tax code was introduced. The sales-tax laws favor retail business (i.e., tourism, San Francisco's biggest industry), and discourage housing.

Let's take, for example, a person who lives in San Jose, and works in San Jose, but unfortunately spends a night on the town in San Francisco. San Jose provides the space for him to live, a space and favorable business climate for him to work, but San Francisco gets to keep all of the money. San Jose is required to provide fire and police protection, schools, parks, libraries, etc., but doesn't get any money to do it.

As a result, San Jose has a 25,000-unit development planned in Coyote Valley, but won't allow housing development there until enough retail business is there to pay for the services required for the housing. If sales taxes were distributed fairly, they could have built that housing 20 years ago.

It is not surprising that there is no affordable quality housing in San Francisco. The laws written by San Francisco politicians prohibit it! Does anyone really wonder why after years of explosive growth in California, San Francisco is smaller today than it was in 1950?

What does this have to do with pork barrel transportation? Well, let's start with Matt Smith's opening story of trying to walk in the sea of frustrated motorists. Is it really surprising, in a city that has torn down more freeways than it has built in the last 10 years, that motorists are frustrated? This has nothing to do with pork and everything to do with simple incompetence on the part of San Francisco city government. Remember, the Sierra Club says cars are bad.

On the other hand, the Prop. 13 rules mean that commuters are good. They drive in, buy things and pay sales tax and payroll tax (i.e., subsidies to San Francisco), and then leave to demand services from other towns. What could be better for San Francisco? Well, the problem is "The City" wants it both ways. It wants the benefit of commuters, but without paying for anything, like freeways, to benefit commuters. After all, they don't live here.

Mr. Smith bags on BART in particular. And he should, but not for the reasons he thinks. Contrary to what the Sierra Club will tell you, any transportation system, including mass transit, creates sprawl. But, as long as suburbanites continue to work and shop in San Francisco and live somewhere else, sprawl is good for San Francisco.

I won't go too much into numerous other nontransportation pork, like Sen. Burton's insertion of a million-dollar subsidy for San Francisco Ocean Beach restoration, claiming that San Francisco depends on beach tourism like Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, etc. San Francisco also got more money than any other town, even though no tourist goes to Ocean Beach, nor is Ocean Beach marketed to tourists.

The list of pork barrel politics which unfairly favors San Francisco at the expense of the rest of us is way, way too long to go into here. Mr. Smith better be careful what he asks for, because the biggest pork barrel welfare queen in California is San Francisco.

Jaime Cordera
Los Altos

Clarifications

Matt Smith's column last week, "Reeferzilla Meets NIMBY-Ra," implied that the Green Party had circulated a petition asking school Superintendent Arlene Ackerman to give back her severance pay. The petition was actually organized by a private citizen, Rick Reynolds.

And last week's Stage review of Doctor Atomic referred to a "precious sample of uranium-238." It should have read "uranium-235," which is much rarer.

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Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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