Why San Francisco seems dysfunctional:

Welcome to the tyranny of the few. San Francisco goes to great lengths to make sure that the community is heard in neighborhood matters. But it has created a system where one or two noisy critics can make it impossible to make even worthwhile changes. … (In this case, sidewalk seatingf at a cafe.)

… only one person, a neighborhood activist named David Overdorf, was raising objections. He stalled the process, worked the system, and when everything seemed settled, demanded a public hearing.

And in all that time, Addison-Torres never met Overdorf, never spoke to him, and never understood what the problem was.

More here.

Thanks to Michael Alexander.


  1. But I wonder if that doesn’t happen in most cities, including Vancouver. It’s a minority of people who care so passionately about an issue–and have enough time on their hands to write letters, protest, etc. Yet, this is who the media and city council often listens to.

    People who look at a proposed change, such as a development application, or a proposal to put more seating on a sidewalk, and think to themselves “hmmm…looks okay to me I guess”, you never hear from.

  2. yeah, sf is insane. if you follow some of the main development blogs (socketsite or curbed, for instance), it’s almost comical how incredibly dark and cynical people are. like some project will be announced with a write-up and renders, and virtually every comment will touch on how unlikely it is to be built, what elements people will oppose most vigorously, etc. the process is so long and labyrinthine that virtually nothing gets built outside of certain fast-track areas that people don’t live in (core cdb, industrial lands, the bayview). there are some real horror stories out there, where small modifications (adding an outdoor barbeque, building a deck, adding solar panels) have taken years, and new constructions have been scuttled after years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. just today we learned that this marquee project for restoring blighted mid-market has lost its funding, an issue directly linked to the 8 years it took the project to move forward to approval. i’m just surprised it hasn’t yet come to murder.

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