Author Archives: Brendon Constans

Muni Uprising

Photo Credit: Nathan Yergler

Hearing the news of the the Muni Drivers’ Union (TWU) strike authorization vote (which will probably be illegal if they go through with it) made me think of an amazing article Greg Dewar & Joe Eskenazi did for SF Weekly a little over a year ago (“The Muni Death Spiral“, SF Weekly, April 14th, 2010).

It’s a great reminder of the deep-rooted dysfunction and incompetence at Muni, from the Union, to Management, to the political leadership.

What really showed me how out of touch Muni Management is, and put any doubts I had about their lack of leadership ability to rest, was when they said they were “blindsided” by the CA Public Utilities Commission report that laid out several dangerous and ongoing problems at Muni (ATC failures, derailments, speeding, etc.). All you have to do is ride Muni and/or read the news every few days to know there is something seriously wrong. When the Muni-riding public is more aware of the shortcomings of Muni than the people running it, there’s obviously a problem.

Then there was the report of the Sunset and Twin Peaks Tunnels, which are literally disintegrating before our eyes, and have NEVER been tested for earthquake safety, even after the ’89 quake!

Year after year, Muni management continues to fail the public. We keep voting for additional Muni funding and for reform after reform, yet it continues to be a gamble whether we’ll get to work on time. We keep paying over $300k a year to Nat Ford, yet he continues making excuses for his failures while he’s out searching for another transit agency to sink. We keep telling our Supervisors and the Mayor that Muni is a top priority, yet they continue passing laws like the Happy Meal Ban or symbolic resolutions that have little to no real-world impact on our daily lives.

Yes, there are major issues regarding lack of State & Federal funding, but that’s no excuse. There are dozens of transit agencies all over the country (including our very own BART) that have found ways to operate efficiently & semi-sustainably with limited resources. It’s long past time for a change in Muni leadership, so that real solutions (not just band-aids) are found for the myriad of systemic problems.

Then there’s the Union, which fails to serve the drivers they’re supposed to represent. Unions are incredibly important for the protection of workers’ interests in large corporations and/or governments, but this union keeps standing up for bad drivers and not properly rewarding the good ones. They also forget (and forget to remind their drivers), that Muni is owned by us, the riders. We are their bosses, and they are here to serve us, not their own self interests. The drivers should get at least $60k a year (not including overtime), but they keep asking for more, or refusing to give things up, not realizing that there isn’t any money to pay for all they’re demanding, and that concessions must be made for the system to actually work (yes, large pay cuts for Muni Management must be part of that, too). It’s long past time for the drivers of Muni to vote for new Union leadership, or just end their contract with the TWU and find (or start) another Union that actually represents their interests without turning the whole City against them.

We need bold action, and we need it now: Implement ALL the Transit Effectiveness Project recommendations ASAP, appoint more transit advocates like Cheryl Brinkman & Joel Ramos to the SFMTA Board, hold bad drivers accountable and support the good ones (there ARE many good ones), and make sure the current system is in proper working order and on time before even talking about expansion.

We’re all mad as hell, and we… keep taking it. When “aren’t we going to take it anymore”? When do we get all Network on their asses and start shouting from our windows and rooftops. Lets get angry, but then lets actually DO something. We need to stop letting them treat us, the owners/riders, like cattle and let it be known that all the incompetence and ineptitude will no longer be tolerated.


Filed under Muni

Reduced Booth Fee For Neighborhood Residents

The Cole Valley Fair will be returning for its ninth year on Sunday, September 25, 2011.

As reported by ColeValleySF &, the booth fee for residents of the 94117 zip code has been significantly reduced in order to attract more local artists.

Additional info, as well as vendor application forms, can be found here.

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Filed under Events

Sugar Intervention

Are you a sugar junkie? Do you get high on Ho Hos, doped up on doughnuts, cracked out on croissants?

If you’ve been wanting to kick your sugar habit, but haven’t been quite sure how, then it might be time for you to enroll at Sugar High School (pdf).

This three-class course, presented by Integrative Nutrition Counselor & Ex-Sugar Junkie Renee Pletka, will teach you how to eat foods you love and have sweetness in your life without all the side effects and guilt.

The course will be held April 20th, April 27th & May 5th from 7:00-8:00 PM at Cole Valley Fitness (957 Cole Street @ Parnassus). Total course cost is $75 for CVF members or $90 for the general public. Stop by the gym or give them a call at 415.665.3330 to reserve your spot today.


Filed under Events, Local Business

Community Police Forum Tonight

SFPD’s Park Station (1899 Waller St) will be holding a Community Police Forum this evening starting at 6 PM in the Station’s Community Room. Any interested neighborhood folk are encouraged to attend.

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Filed under Crime Reports, Events

Straight To The Source

On a recent trip to Yosemite, I found myself staying in a lodge just a few miles from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir & O’Shaughnessy Dam, so we decided to head into the valley to check out the source of our daily shower & drinking water, as well as much of San Francisco’s electricity.

O'Shaughnessy Dam

The Dam, completed in 1923 (with an additional 85 feet added in 1938), provides power for all of San Francisco’s municipal needs, including (but not limited to) General Hospital, San Francisco International Airport, City Hall, and Muni’s electric vehicles (streetcars, LRVs & trolley buses).

It also provides 85% of the City’s water, which is delivered by gravity through 150 miles of pipelines and tunnels that stretch from the Sierras to San Francisco. Because the water is so pure, it’s one of only a small number of city water supplies in the country that doesn’t require filtering.

The Dam & Reservoir are owned by the City & County of San Francisco and operated/maintained by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Although strongly opposed by John Muir & The Sierra Club for the irreparable harm it would have on the natural beauty of the valley, not to mention the difficulties it would create for the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes Indians, the Dam’s construction was approved by Congress in 1913 with the passage of the Raker Act.

The removal of the Dam and restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley has long been advocated for by organizations such as The Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund & Restore Hetch Hetchy, but surprisingly it’s been Republican politicians that seem to have taken up the cause over the last few decades. One of the first studies on its removal was commissioned in 1987 by then Secretary of the Department of the Interior under President Reagan, Don Hodel. More recently, in 2007, President Bush proposed a $7 million study, and in 2006 Governor Schwarzenegger deemed its removal “feasible”. However many, including Senator Dianne Feinstein and the City & County of San Francisco, remain staunchly opposed to its dismantling.

The Hetch Hetchy Valley Floor in 1908. Photo: The Sierra Club

Hetch Hetchy Valley today.

With proper funding and motivation, I believe the water & power from the Dam & Reservoir could be replaced with other renewable/local sources, allowing Hetch Hetchy Valley to be restored to its original grandeur. Unfortunately, doing so would take far more political will and financial capital than is likely available in the current climate.

In the meantime, I’ll continue enjoying the most delicious tap water a city dweller can find.


Filed under Environment, General, History, Infrastructure

Upper Haight Farmers’ Market Returns THIS WEDNESDAY

The much loved Upper Haight Farmers’ Market returns for its sophomore year this Wednesday, April 6th, at Waller & Stanyan.  Head on down from 4-8 PM to check out all your favorite vendors, and hear Big Dog perform live.

The market continues every Wednesday, rain or shine, through October 26th.

And if you just can’t get enough of those farm-fresh veggies, the year-round UCSF Parnassus Farmers’ Market (505 Parnassus Ave) is open every Wednesday from 10 AM – 3 PM.

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Filed under Events, Local Business

New Cole Valley Blog!

Be sure to check out ColeValleySF for all the latest neighborhood news and events.  You’ll also find some fascinating Cole Valley history and much much more.

Now with at least three neighborhood blogs (Cole Valley Alley, ColeValleySF and, we appear to be turning into one of the bloggiest little neighborhoods in town!

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Filed under General