Wednesday, May 2, 2007

More NIMBYism in the Panhandle

Today's San Francisco Examiner has an article on the latest struggle between those who want to create public arts and civic events, and those who are worried, worried, worried about "crowds," "noise," and "trash." In this case members of the Black Rock Arts Foundation's ScrapEden project want to create a temporary (important word, that) 30 foot wide, 18 foot tall bandshell made out of "used car hoods, computer circuit panels and plastic water bottles." The bandshell will be in place from June 1 until September 15, and will be used on a daily basis, from noon until dusk, for events like puppet shows and acoustic performances that are expected to draw "crowds" of about 25 people. The project has the support of the Recreation and Park Department, as well as Supervisor Ross Mirakami, whose district includes the Panhandle. So what are the objections from the neighbors?
“The noise factor is definitely a deterrent for anyone in the neighborhood,” said Maureen Murphy, who lives on Oak Street. “Although they said there would be no amplification, any time you construct any sort of a band shell … Things start out with the best intentions, but things get out of hand.
Wow, that's really a reasoned response - "but things get out of hand." I'm terrified of what might happen after a group of toddlers gets all riled up by a puppet show in the middle of the day. Ms. Murphy is also concerned about "safety," since the Panhandle is in a strip between two major streets, but if that's the case, maybe we should also ban dog walking, frisbee playing, and jogging, since you never know when any of those activities might take someone out in the street in a non-crosswalk area. She's also worried about trash - man, those crowds of kids and folkies really know how to mess up a place. Another neighbor feels that the Panhandle is too small an area for an 18 by 25 foot band shell, so she suggests putting it in Sharon Meadows, a space in the middle of Golden Gate Park that would completely dwarf the structure and take it away from serving those people who live in the Panhandle area.

In short, it looks like these people decided to just be reactionary against anything that might possibly, in some small way, for some short period of time, impinge on their concept of their neighborhood (and, no doubt, their property values). So instead of coming up with real reasons for why this should not be allowed, they're grasping at straws and trying to concoct worst-case scenarios. Let's hope that the Board of Supervisors is a little bit more rationale in making decisions about this.


Anonymous said...

It's pretty optimistic (to put it kindly) to think it will really be all quiet things like puppet shows and poetry readings. There's been no naming of any specific performers and no real limits in place. They "anticipate" these kinds of performances, they "expect" only that many people at each performance, and so forth. Not encouraging. And even if it was to be things like kids' plays and puppet shows all day, so what? Kids sure do have the ability to trash up a place, so even if it is all puppet shows and nursery rhyme readings, there will still be litter. Lots of it. As for safety, I think the woman quoted meant more along the lines of people hiding out/sleeping in and around the bandshell at night. It's a very valid point, too. A few people already sleep in that park; this is just going to provide shelter for them and who-knows-how-many others. Bottom line: the area in question is a neighborhood park, already heavily used by residents in the immediate vicinity - for walking, jogging, biking, playing with dogs and children, picnicing, tai chi, and much more, and this will infringe on the ability of current daily users of the space to continue to enjoy the park as they currently do. Three and a half months is far too long to impose something like this daily on a small quiet residential neighborhood. The bandshell would be a great thing to see in the appropriate location. It has merit, but the Panhandle is The Wrong Place for it. Many nearby alternative locations exist that are not in such extreme proximity to people's homes. The bandshell should be installed in one of those alternative, more suitable locations. It's really that simple.

The Jaded Gay DJ said...

I think that my optimistic assumptions are just as valid as your pessimistic ones. The points you raise would be valid if you had any solid evidence to support them, but there just isn't any. I'm sure the Rec and Parks department will have methods to institute controls over things like litter, who will be scheduled to perform, and general monitoring of the area. Instead of assuming things will go badly and using those assumptions as the basis for opposition, why not instead take these concerns to the appropriate authorities, work with them to see that they are addressed, and then let it go for a trial of three months to see how it works out? My basic problem with all of this is that for cities to evolve, there must be room for experimentation, and too many people in San Francisco seem to want things to remain exactly the way they are. It reminds me too much of the attitude that prevailed in rural Virginia where I grew up, and I've seen how things have turned out there. I don't want to see my adopted city go the same way as the town of my birth.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess the first anon poster = Ms. Murphy or some other loudmouth whiny vocal minority who ruins things for the silent complacent majority?